Pink slip hallucination

November 20th, 2023

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Damage control. After a tumultuous start to this past weekend’s F1 race, it seems the Las Vegas Grand Prix has hit another speed bump… or, drain cover. The spectacle on the Strip is now facing a class-action lawsuit after Thursday’s practice session was cut short due to issues with the track. While the case’s outcome is still TBD, there’s one thing we know for sure: Netflix’s next season of Drive to Survive just got much more interesting.

In other news… Sam Altman gets fired (kind of), Crocs embraces the meme life, and Airbnb rents out a town.

Top Trends

YouTube → Arthur The King

Google → Jason Momoa

Reddit → Napoleon

TikTok → “I Want U”

Spotify → “Uglyfisherman”

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Generating drama // Illustration by Kate Walker

OpenAI fires Sam Altman… and then changes its mind… and then can’t get him back

The Future. OpenAI fired Sam Altman after an investigation by the board found he “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities” …and then quickly changed its mind as the blast radius spread. Although it tried to rehire the co-founder and CEO yesterday, Altman ultimately packed his own bags. As the drama continues to unfold, competitors are already moving fast to snatch up talent, ironically giving Big Tech the chance to pull ahead of the much smaller competitor.

Pink slip hallucination
Things happen fast on the internet… but they may happen faster at OpenAI.

Although Altman engaged with the rehire request, it wasn’t meant to be. Talks fell apart last night and a fresh exodus of employees are following him out the door. Meanwhile, Sutskever doubled down on his initial criticisms, locking the door behind the man who is now arguably the face of AI.

In the interim, Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear will act as CEO… ensuring that Murati gets the Guinness World Record for shortest CEO-tenure ever.

Truly a wild weekend… and we can’t help but feel that what kicked the whole thing off was the board really didn’t want this scene from M3GAN to become a reality.

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FASHION

Laughing stock // Illustration by Kate Walker

Crocs embrace the meme life

The Future. Last decade, we all laughed at Crocs. This decade, we all laugh with Crocs. By staying the course and embracing its inherent ridiculousness, the clog brand has turned its business into a very serious moneymaker. As Crocs shows no signs of waning influence, the coolest thing for a brand to do in 2023 may be scoring a Crocs collab.

Foot jokes
Crocs has found success by putting memes on your feet.

  • Its Lightning McQueen clogs (that light up, btw) were so hot people were trying to buy stores’ entire stocks to get in the resell race.

  • But its most absurd animated-character collab was the Shrek clog (with Jibbitz nose and ears), which gave the brand its highest launch day traffic on its site.

  • Brand collabs don’t get bigger than McDonald’s, which Crocs designed an entire line of mascot-inspired clogs for — the Grimace one sold out in 10 minutes in China.

  • It doubled its meme power by partnering with MSCHF on the Big Yellow Boot —  introducing it at Paris Fashion Week (with a mime) and rolling out an ad campaign with Paris Hilton.

  • And there’s just the plain ridiculous — Crocs dropped a cowboy boot clog (made to look like leather) that scored billions of online impressions globally.

But, potentially most shocking was its stab at streetwear cred by partnering with designer Salehe Bembury, who’s worked for Yeezy, Versace, and New Balance. He made Crocs look, dare we say it, unironically cool.

Now we know we’ve drank the Kool-Aid… or the ranch dressing.

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Skin better

Tired of those vague “natural” claims and underwhelming results when it comes to skincare products? Us, too. That’s why we like Standard Self Care.

Founded by two genius college buds, Standard Self Care is all about transparency and education. Their debut line packs a punch with the Hydrating Omega + Cleansing Balm, Hyaluronic Daily Moisturizer, and Omega + Cell Regenerating Eye Cream. 

So, what else sets them apart? Their products are bioactive, non-toxic, and vegan. Plus, they’re free from all the bad stuff like parabens, cruelty, fragrance, and silicones. Oh, and they’re loaded with cosmeceuticals that dive deep into your skin for real results. Because that’s what it’s all about.

HOUSING

Courtesy of Little Pine Properties

Airbnb fills a midwestern town with hype

The Future. A tiny town in Oklahoma was put on the map (literally, actually) by a pandemic-fueled surge as an Airbnb hotspot. It was so in demand that the business registration manager at the Oklahoma Tax Commission stated “the town is basically one giant Airbnb.” But with demand plummeting for short-term rentals across the nation, thanks to changing tastes and regulatory restrictions, the rise (and kind of fall) of Hochatown may show the peril of relying on one tech platform for revenue.

Short-term small town
Welcome to Airbnb, Oklahoma… er… Hochatown, Oklahoma.

  • Even though Hochatown only has 219 residents, it has 2,400 rental properties — 2,000 that were built during the pandemic and so quickly that they didn’t adhere to building codes.

  • That put a lot of pressure on a town that didn’t have a police force, firefighters, garbage collectors, paved roads, or reliable water infrastructure — it had been getting some assistance from the Choctaw Nation.

  • But now, with half a million in tax revenue per month, Hochatown’s government (mostly just one volunteer mayor) has been investing in getting everything up to code.

  • And for a while, residents saw multiplied growth in their home values, with some properties doubling in worth.

But all gold rushes end. As Airbnb’s business model hit a ceiling (with there being 5% more supply than demand), Hochatown has also taken a hit — the town’s rentals went from 95% to 40% occupancy this past August. 

That’s left some short-term rental prospectors underwater and putting up a For Sale sign… but at least Hochatown has strong enough pipes for all the hot tubs now.

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Adult better in your biz

Owning your own biz is awesome. But the adulting part can be a drag sometimes, especially when it comes to paying people and getting paid. But you can chill — Hopscotch is here to help

With Hopscotch, you can kiss that payment stress goodbye. LATER! It’s the ultimate solution for all your invoicing and bill-paying needs, neatly packed into one user-friendly platform.

Game-changing features include:

  • Getting your money and sending it without any annoying fees

  • Customizing the customer experience to match your unique brand vibe

  • Expanding your clients with longer net payment terms

Automate those boring admin tasks and make adulting look easy!

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Highlights

The best curated daily stories from around the web

Media, Music, & Entertainment

  • After years at NBC, the Golden Globes have found a new broadcast home at CBS and Paramount+. Read more → thr

  • Beyoncé is rumored to be the next artist to score a residency at the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas once her Renaissance tour concludes. Read more → hypebeast

  • Pink is collabing with PEN America to give away 2,000 banned books during her concerts in Florida. Read more → bbc

Fashion & E-Commerce

  • Gap stock is soaring, thanks to a rebound at Old Navy. Read more → bloomberg

  • Hyundai will let you buy cars on Amazon starting next year… and yes, they can be delivered. Read more → complex

  • Blackstock & Weber founder Chris Echevarria is expanding from footwear to clothing with the launch of ACADEMY. Read more → hypebeast

Tech, Web3, & AI

  • Numerous blue-chip media and tech brands have paused advertising on X after Elon Musk supported antisemitic tweets… and Musk has threatened to file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” today in response. Read more → cnbc

  • Apple is making it easier to text Android users by adopting the RCS messaging standard alongside iMessage — are the days of the green bubble finally over? Read more → forbes

  • A startup called Toku alleges it can predict heart conditions using its AI-powered tool, CLAiR, to scan people’s retinas. Read more → techcrunch

Creator Economy

  • President Biden (or his re-election campaign at least) is thinking about becoming a TikTok influencer to reach younger voters. Read more → axios

  • Twitch launched a privacy center to teach users about their data rights. Read more → techcrunch

  • The latest TikTok makeup trend is transforming yourself into an android — the kind from those uncanny-valley motion-capture animated films of the 2000s. Read more → highsnobiety

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

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