“The last 10% it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90%." — Rob Kalin
Good Morning! Apple’s $3,500 Vision Pro hit US stores over the weekend, and kicked off the dystopian future. The 2026 soccer World Cup final will take place in New York (read: New Jersey's MetLife Stadium). According to a new study – men apparently get a bigger boost from their looks in their careers than women do. Disney's on a mission to tighten the reins on Hulu password sharers, so if you've been mooching off your ex's account, you might lose access in March. Plus YouTube’s CEO shares success wisdom, and top 21 use cases for the Apple Vision Pro.
SQUEEZ OF THE DAY
In the finance and tech industries, where long hours and high pressure are the norm, you’ve probably noticed a new player entering the performance-enhancing arena over the past few years - nicotine pouches, particularly Zyn. They fit under the lip, offering a nicotine fix without the smoke or vape, making them the latest go-to for workers seeking an edge in productivity and focus.
Zyn's popularity is soaring, and last year Philip Morris announced a 66% sales spike in the US. And it’s become a cultural phenomenon, too - spawning social media hashtags like #Zynbabwe and #Zynladen, and even gaining traction among high-profile figures and so-called #Zynfluencers.
Billionaire Peter Thiel suspects nicotine can raise your IQ by ten points, and Andrew Huberman has talked about nicotine's potential as a smart drug on his podcast, despite the well-documented risks of addiction.
Last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for federal action against nicotine pouches, highlighting their appeal to younger demographics. Meanwhile, studies continue to explore nicotine's impact on cognition, suggesting that in small doses, it might enhance attention and memory.
But you’re still playing with fire - the pathway to leveraging these benefits without falling into addiction is pretty uncertain.
Takeaway: For years, investment bankers have searched for the latest miracle drug that’s going to boost their focus. ADHD pills are a common sight in the bullpen and Zyn is slowly taking over now. But there’s a good chance it’s not great for you. And you never know if it’s only a matter of time before your office starts cracking down on the usage, too.
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The Next Frontier of Alternative Investment is... Whiskey?
The bourbon-whiskey industry is booming.
All across Kentucky, rickhouses are being built at record speeds to keep up with the booming bourbon industry.
And even with 10 million barrels aging at this moment, the demand is still eclipsing the supply.
Trump says he won't reappoint Powell as Fed chair if re-elected (Axios)
Apple’s Vision Pro virtual reality headset launches in U.S. (CNBC)
Why U.S. debt markets are "shifting in a big way" (Axios)
Disney password-sharing crackdown to hit Hulu users (YF)
The money and drugs that tie Elon Musk to some Tesla directors (WSJ)
The private equity fund that only invests in barrels of whiskey (Axios)
A Goldman Sachs-backed electricity firm pushing to reach more Americans’ homes (CNBC)
Meta’s $197 billion stock surge is biggest in stock market history (BB)
Men benefit more from their looks at work than women do (CNBC)
Job market starts 2024 with a bang (Axios)
Stocks closed higher following a strong jobs report.
(+) Meta ($META) +20% after posting a soaring profit, better-than-expected guidance.
(+) Amazon ($AMZN) +8% after Q4 earnings topped expectations.
(–) Skechers ($SKX) -10% after posting mixed Q4 earnings.
Brentwood Associates sold Parchment, a professional credentials management company, for $835 million
Sanlam, a South African insurer, bought rival Assupol Life for $349 million
Watershed, an enterprise sustainability platform, raised $100 million
Oasis Security, a non-human identity management solutions, raised $40 milion
Qdrant, an open source vector database, raised $28 million
Splash, a fantasy sports startup, raised $14.1 million
For more PE, VC & M&A deals, subscribe to our Buysiders newsletter.
BOOK OF THE DAY
Once the unrivaled titan of social media, Facebook held a singular place in culture and politics. Along with its sister platforms Instagram and WhatsApp, it was a daily destination for billions of users around the world. Inside and outside the company, Facebook extolled its products as bringing people closer together and giving them voice.
But in the wake of the 2016 election, even some of the company’s own senior executives came to consider those claims pollyannaish and simplistic. As a succession of scandals rocked Facebook, they—and the world—had to ask whether the company could control, or even understood, its own platforms.
Facebook employees set to work in pursuit of answers. They discovered problems that ran far deeper than politics. Facebook was peddling and amplifying anger, looking the other way at human trafficking, enabling drug cartels and authoritarians, allowing VIP users to break the platform’s supposedly inviolable rules.
They even raised concerns about whether the product was safe for teens. Facebook was distorting behavior in ways no one inside or outside the company understood.
Enduring personal trauma and professional setbacks, employees successfully identified the root causes of Facebook's viral harms and drew up concrete plans to address them. But the costs of fixing the platform—often measured in tenths of a percent of user engagement—were higher than Facebook's leadership was willing to pay.
With their work consistently delayed, watered down, or stifled, those who best understood Facebook’s damaging effect on users were left with a choice: to keep silent or go against their employer. Broken Code tells the story of these employees and their explosive discoveries.
“The book is stuffed with eye-popping, sometimes Orwellian statistics and anecdotes that could have come only from the inside."
Government Interest Payments Have Doubled since 2021
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“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.
For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication…
In the long run, success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”
Source: Viktor Frankl
Short Squeez Picks
Memes of the Day