Netflix Wrapped

December 13th, 2023

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Question of the day. If someone gave you $1 billion today, what would you do with it? The best answer wins $1 billion.*

In other news… Praxis is building a crypto city, Netflix wins again, and Instagram is now called Finstagram.

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Crypto city // Illustration by Kait Cunniff with Midjourney

Praxis wants to build the city of crypto

The Future. The secretive startup Praxis has wild ambitions to build a city in Silicon Valley’s image somewhere along the Mediterranean Sea, raising millions of dollars (and eyebrows) in its pursuit. While Praxis is likely little more than a whole lot of hype and runaway ego, the even more secretive “California Forever” project and the new infrastructure-focused a16z fund show that there’s an appetite for futuristic cities.

Having almost zero experience, few connections, and seemingly fewer skills, 27-year-old Dryden Brown has somehow raised over $19 million from the likes of Pronomos Capital, Apollo Ventures, and FTX (big LOL) to build Praxis.

  • Concept art shows a glass city on the Mediterranean coastline (exact location TBD) that’s powered by green energy, uses crypto as currency, and has airships for transport.

  • It’s reportedly built on a techno-libertarian ethos (almost no taxes, few laws, and lots of innovation) and 20th century neo-fascism (hyper-specific resident requirements).

  • And it has developed a community — 12,000 members (including disgraced investor Martin Shkreli and Soylent founder Rob Rhinehart) and a 50,000 member waiting list.

So, has any of this actually led anywhere? Not really — other than some Eyes Wide Shut-lite parties and a company that has 431 employees where “nobody seems to have a definable skillset,” per NYT.

For a guy who decided to build a city because he felt trapped in his NYC apartment during COVID, Brown has sure constructed himself an impressive house of cards.

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Opening the black box

Netflix brings a trove of streaming data out of the black box

The Future. Netflix released a report covering the viewership metrics of 99% of its catalog (roughly 18,000 original and licensed titles) that were released globally between January and June of this year and watched for at least 50,000 hours (which is little). While Netflix has historically been more transparent than its rivals, a report of this magnitude from the top platform is a paradigm shift for Hollywood and will likely force every other streamer to follow suit, reshaping the conversation of what defines a “hit.”

Netflix Wrapped
Netflix’s most surprising release of the year may just be its viewership report What We Watched.

  • The searchable Excel spreadsheet breaks down projects by title, hours viewed, release date, and whether a title was released globally.

  • While Netflix Originals dominated the list, 55% of viewing was for Originals, while 45% was for licensed titles.

  • Although Netflix’s Top 10 and Most Popular lists now break down metrics by “views” (to not overly favor long drama shows), co-CEO Ted Sarandos said that this report still gives a clear view of how titles are doing on the platform.

While Sarandos stresses that the Hollywood strikes weren’t the reason for Netflix to finally become this transparent about data, he did acknowledge that the culture of keeping viewership details close to the chest was responsible for “creating an atmosphere of mistrust over time.” The strikes made that loud and clear.

Netflix plans to release these reports semi-annually… so hopefully, that helps to rebuild trust.

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My insta and finsta

Instagram wants to make finstas official

The Future. Instagram is about to give everyone a finsta — a separate account for secret use — with its in-the-works “flipside” feature. If rolled out widely, flipside could propel Instagram into a movement for a more private social media ecosystem and create a feed that’s intrinsically free from influencing.

Circle of trust
Reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi discovered Instagram’s finsta development.

  • Flipside accounts exist as part of a user’s normal account — they simply need to swipe down on their profile to switch over to their private flipside profile.

  • Like the “Close Friends” feature for Stories, flipside accounts allow users to share posts with a pre-selected group of followers.

  • There also seems to be a “remove everyone” button, so users can start their flipsides over from scratch.

  • And, yes, Instagram’s typical community guidelines will still apply to flipsides.

We guess we finally have an answer to US Senator Richard Blumenthal’s hilarious question to Instagram’s head of global safety Antigone Davis: “will you commit to ending finstas?”

No, Instagram is just getting started.

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39.1% of you voted for Barbie in yesterday’s poll: What’s your favorite movie of 2023?

“It was more than just a movie it was an experience! From seeing everyone make their personalized posters on social media to dressing up for the event, it was just fun all around.”

“My actual favorite movie of 2023 is All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt.”


The best curated daily stories from around the web

Media, Music, & Entertainment

  • Streaming synergy: Paramount Global is renaming the Showtime cable network to… Paramount+ With Showtime. Read More → variety

  • The Entertainment Software Association has officially called “game over” on the E3 conference after its two-decade run as the biggest gaming convention in the world. Read More → thr

  • Seth MacFarlane’s Fuzzy Door Productions has released an AR tool, ViewScreen, that allows film productions to visualize CG characters through the camera viewfinder while on set. Read More → techcrunch

Fashion & E-Commerce

  • Dior is fashioning a new Monsieur Dior restaurant with help from Anne-Sophie Pic — the most Michelin-starred female chef in the world. Read More → hypebeast

  • Indonesia’s cancellation of TikTok Shop in the country has backfired as the company has just gone ahead and merged with Tokopedia — one of the biggest ecommerce platforms in Indonesia. Read More → wsj

  • “Flavor company” Empirical has teamed up with PepsiCo to release a cocktail that tastes like Doritos Nacho Cheese, courtesy of Lars Williams, one of the former chefs at Noma. Read More → fastcompany

Tech, Web3, & AI

In partnership with Virtual Gurus

  • A federal judge has sided with Epic Games that Google Play Store is a monopoly and needs to adjust its payment rules. Read More → nyt

  • The Arena Group has fired its CEO in the wake of the bombshell revelations that the publisher has routinely been generating “journalists” using AI and trying to pass them off as human. Read More → deadline

  • Here’s a look into the Excel Olympics — yes, competitive spreadsheeting. Read More → wsj

From our partners: Are you overwhelmed during the holiday season? Virtual Gurus is here to help. Their productivity assistant services take care of all your needs, from marketing and social media to bookkeeping and even toy building. Did someone say subscription? With their OnDemand option, it’s even easier just pay as you go. Sit back, relax, and enjoy eggnog while their qualified assistants handle your workload. Ease your holiday stress with a free hour from Virtual Gurus.

Creator Economy

  • Twitch is rolling it out its end-of-the-year recap as a playable game. Read More → tubefilter

  • X is bringing video capability to Spaces. Read More → hypebeast

  • Snapchat+ subscribers can now generate and slide AI images into their friends’ DMs. Read More → techcrunch

*In the intro we offered the best answer to our “question of the day” $1 billion. It was a joke — if only we had that kind of money.

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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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