August 24, 2019

News ⚡ — Friday, August 23

First came the burger, up next Impossible Coffee. MasterClass founder launches Outlier to offer credit-earning college courses. 4 future trends in the music industry.

1.☕ Impossible Burger investor bets big on bean-free coffee
Made from Atomo’s own map of coffee’s molecular makeup, it’s got many of the same chemical compounds you enjoy each morning, derived from secret but supposedly more sustainable sources.

2. 🎓 MasterClass founder launches Outlier, offering online courses for college credit
The startup is launching a pilot version of its first two courses, Calculus I and Introduction to Psychology, for the coming fall semester. Each course is available for $400. The course fees also include the cost of textbooks.

3. 🎵 4 trends shaping the future of the music industry for 2019 and beyond
The report by Sound Charts looks at the role of A.I, changes in consumption habits, the convergence of music and gaming and the empowerment of artists.

4. 🍨 The Museum of Ice Cream raises money to the tune of a $200 million valuation
The ice cream-centric experiential activation will look for expansion after a fresh $40 million in funds while aiming to be the next Walt Disney.

5. 🎮 Fortnite’s next tournament will also be its most controversial, thanks to mech suits
They require two-people to pilot them, but they’re devastating in the hands of even a moderately skilled pair of players. The result has been an unprecedented level of community backlash over what’s seen as a game-breaking addition and a serious headache for Epic going into its next big tournament series.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

August 23, 2019

Far from starving—Dealers are now giving their star artists luxury residences too


Art residencies give artists the space and time to create and there are over 1,500 art residencies worldwide. Many of these are run by private patrons, nonprofits, schools, art institutions and artists themselves. But recently, commercial galleries are starting more of their own residencies and keeping their artists happy, inspired and coming back.

Why dealers and galleries are starting their own

Until recently, it was pretty uncommon to find private art dealers and commercial galleries starting their own residencies. Hosting their own residencies—and keeping artists happy enough to stay—gives their programs dynamism and a competitive edge in an evolving art market.

As one of the first to do so, Vienna-based dealer Ursula Krinzinger started her first residency in Croatia in 1976 following an inspirational stay there with performance artist Marina Abramović. She later expanded to Hungary, Sri Lanka and Vienna.

More recently, other large galleries have stepped into the fray:

  • Thomas Dane: In late 2017, the London gallery launched theirs in Naples, Italy.
  • Hauser & Wirth: Since 2015, the global mega-gallery started offering 1-3 month stints in the town of Bruton in Southwest England.
  • Catinca Tabacaru: The New York gallery is in the third year of its program, the CTG Collective Residency.

How these new residencies differ

  • They’re more about hosting fewer artists (or maybe just one) at a time, emphasizing the connection to a place versus a group of other artists.
  • This means helping artists disconnect from art heavy cities like New York and London and to provide opportunities at destinations that shake up their daily lives.
  • They pay for just about everything and especially travel, room and board whereas traditional ones might charge fees. Even smaller galleries are helping by donating air miles to fly artists in.
  • Some galleries are located in Brazil or China where import taxes or customs are punitive, something that’s avoided by having art produced there.

They may connect residents with artists outside their roster, students and the community where they’re situated.

If only we could join them

The benefit of a residency is not just a matter of “getting away from it all” and being able to focus on creating. It can also mean focusing on the act of creating without having to produce. Many residencies are okay with artists not producing any finished work by the end, allowing the craft to take precedence over the product. This means artists are free to explore new directions away from both the influence of their original communities and perhaps even their artist peers, but also the sense of urgency of having “something to show for it.” There’s a major and often undiscussed difference between an artist and a creative. The latter has to adhere to (relatively) strict parameters of time, budget, and creative restriction. Artists, on the other hand, are left to their devices and therefore able to create on their own terms which typically allows for the best work possible, and not “the best work, given the limitations.”

August 22, 2019

News ⚡ — Thursday, August 22

Nike updates policy for pregnant athletes. Chef Gaggan Anand opens up about the closure of his Asia-best restaurant and future plans. Protein replacement startup Shiru launches from Y Combinator.

1. 🤰 Nike crucially updates policy for pregnant athletes: “our voices have power”
Earlier this year, female Nike runners denounced Nike’s discriminatory practices against pregnant athletes. After Olympic runners Alysia Montaño and Allyson Felix spoke out about being “penalized for having a child,” an internal e-mail earlier this week reveals the brand has changed its contracts for pregnant athletes and is waiving pay reductions.

2. 👨‍🍳 Chef Gaggan Anand opens up about the closure of his Asia-best restaurant and future plans
Anand is hoping to open a new location by October, bringing with him and his 65 team members from Gaggan.

3. ⚗️ Protein replacement startups are coming for food additives as Shiru launches from Y Combinator
The company’s looking at what proteins are best for creating certain kinds of qualities that are used in food additives — things like viscosity building, solubility, foam stability, emulsification, and binding.

4. 📉 The US will hit Chinese art and antiquities with an additional 10 percent tariff next month as the trade war escalates
Trump delayed the deadline for taxing consumer goods to spare holiday shoppers, but not those in the antiquities trade.

5. 💽 How video game music is driving a vinyl record resurgence
iam8bit, the first label dedicated predominantly to vinyl video game soundtracks, says that they’ve sold 200,000 albums to date, a number that includes six Billboard chart-toppers.

6. 💡 Top US CEOs rethink the meaning of shareholder value
It’s an implicit recognition that corporations have a larger responsibility than a return on investment and also that more Americans are living under duress today. Wage gains have been nonexistent to moderate for years. Economic research, as well as government data, point to an era in which Americans must do more for less.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

August 21, 2019

News ⚡ — Wednesday, August 21

Jay-Z’s controversial new NFL partnership explained. Spotify partners with Puma for podcast. Singularity 6 raises $16.5M to create a “virtual society.”

1. 👀 The controversy surrounding Jay-Z’s new partnership with the NFL, explained
Hip-hop’s first billionaire will help with the NFL’s social justice efforts. Critics are angry that the deal excludes Colin Kaepernick.

2. 🔉 Spotify partners with Puma for Who We Be Talks podcast
The current episode tells the real-world rags to riches tale of Mamadou Sakho, a footballer who battled his way up from the backstreets of Paris to claim a place at Premier League side Crystal Palace.

3. 💰 Singularity 6 raises $16.5M from Andreessen Horowitz to create a ‘virtual society’
The startup’s ex-Riot Games co-founders claim their venture is less focused on building a button-mashing competitive shooter than it is a “virtual society” where users can develop relationships with in-game characters powered by “complex AI.”

4. 🐄 Goldsmiths uni’s beef ban is the institutional change our planet needs
A student from the London college writes about what impactful resistance to climate change should look like.

5. 📉 Losing Hong Kong: A catastrophe for luxury retail
Violent clashes between pro-democracy protesters and China’s government spell long-lasting damage to the local retail sector, leaving Richemont, LVMH, Kering and others exposed.

6. 🌶️ Hot Ones and 88rising collaborate on new hot sauce, Dragon in the Clouds
The sauce, which will be available exclusively at the Head in the Clouds Festival, includes Sichuan peppercorn, ghost peppers, vinegar, yuzu, mustard and fresh garlic.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

August 21, 2019

Making It Up 098: How memes and brands relate and breaking down virtual influencers

On Making It Up 098, Charis and Eugene talk about the possible relationship between memes and brands as being top-down or bottom-up, giving the New York Times and Wendy’s as examples of each. They also discuss the new virtual influencer Liam Nikuro and what virtual influencer companies get right and what they could do better.


00:01:41 Memes and brands
00:22:39 Virtual influencers


August 20, 2019

News ⚡ — Tuesday, August 20

Jay-Z’s NFL deal gets a response from Colin Kaepernick. Heat to be the real challenge at Tokyo’s Olympic test events. A$AP Rocky would’ve been owned millions if found not guilty.

1. 🏈 The backlash to Jay-Z’s NFL deal is just beginning
Add to that the rumors that Jay will soon become the owner of an NFL team, and that was more than enough for players—and Kaepernick—to finally chime in.

2. 🌡️ The real hurdle at Tokyo’s Olympic test events: the heat
Officials found the Heat Stress Indicator, which takes temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover into account, would move to a level considered dangerous by the end of the women’s triathlon. So the committee decided to cut the run segment in half, from 10 kilometers to 5 kilometers.

3. 👀 If A$AP Rocky hadn’t been found guilty, Sweden could have owed him millions
Instead, aside from the month he spent in detention in Stockholm, he was given two years’ probation and a fine of 12,500 Swedish kronor (approximately $1,300) to split with the two associates who were also convicted.

4. 🗺️ Google launches ‘Live View’ AR walking directions for Google Maps
Google is launching a beta of its augmented reality walking directions feature for Google Maps, with a broader launch that will be available to all iOS and Android devices that have system-level support for AR.

5. 👵 The elderly are the next big growth market for Chinese tech firms
Tech companies want to lure more of the 18% of the population and earn their share of the $1 trillion dollars Chinese seniors are expected to spend on consumer goods in 2020.

6. 📉 The world’s biggest economies are facing a synchronized global slump
The same signs that are pointing to a coming U.S. recession have preceded each one over the last 70 years.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

August 20, 2019

How Algorithms Replaced Gatekeepers and Lowered the Bar on Quality

The fall of last generation’s analog gatekeepers meant that everyone with an internet connection and the desire to create (and share) their work could potentially make a name for themselves. But the social media giants and the spate of algorithmically-driven content that comes with them may have caused more damage to creative expression than any stuffy executive could.

Pre-social media gatekeepers

Among others, these types of powerful positions would decide what works made it to the public consciousness, which remained in a slush pile, and which were rejected altogether. These titles included:

  • Magazine editors
  • TV producers
  • Publishing execs
  • Gallery curators

How things changed

  1. The Internet and especially Facebook democratized fame by allowing anyone’s work to reach a news feed
  2. Almost overnight, major outlets had to share more work to both keep up with the times and to shake the “bad” aspects of their gatekeeper image
  3. Aside from creatives getting their due, there was also a deluge of content of all types
  4. The social media giants introduced algorithms to sift through this massive amount of content, inevitably pushing the most popular, likeable and shareable content to the top

How that made things worse

For one, the rise of the IG artist and the boosted metrics their content brings has shifted entire marketing strategies to favor a very specific set of aesthetics and content. This means a lot of creatives are focusing on their social strategy over their craft to stay afloat.

This also means that in this new age of democratized media where everyone and anyone has a creative voice that can be amplified via shares and likes, there’s less room for critique. No one argues that content with tens of thousands of likes isn’t successful, but is it good?

The new “gatekeeper” is us

Unfortunately, short of creating our own platforms or opting for indie social media, the onus is back on us as individuals to gatekeep for ourselves. We’ve previously outlined this in the Creator’s Paradigm, but here’s a quick overview of some strategies:

  • Taking our own deep dives into that sea of content to find what’s truly meaningful to us
  • Re-evaluating our sources of content and realizing which ones are merely the “easiest” to digest
  • Concentrating all our preferred sources in one spot using apps like Feedly
  • Taking more time to digest quality content (and archiving the best stuff) rather than simply scrolling through forgettable content that’s recommended to us

Or if you’re feeling like filtering all of the internet, apparently there’s a program for that too.


August 19, 2019

News ⚡ — Monday, August 19

Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys are opening an art and music center in upstate New York. Influencers will run the future of fashion. Spotify’s podcast dashboard comes out of beta.

1. 🎵 Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys are opening an art and music center in upstate New York to build a ‘global creative community’
The space will showcase the couple’s art collection and teach emerging artists about the business side of the industry.

2. 👀 Farfetch CEO says influencers will run the future of fashion
“The brands of the future will have three core elements,” Farfetch chief executive José Neves said in a statement. “First, a creative tastemaker able to leverage digital channels to engage a global community; second, best-in-class design, planning and manufacturing; and third, direct-to-consumer global online distribution, complemented by a connected wholesale presence in the most prestigious physical boutiques.”

3. 📈 Spotify’s podcast dashboard comes out of beta
With the addition of podcasts, the platform now has access to a tremendous amount of free content created by third-party producers that record it, edit it and host it. All Spotify has to do is index the content.

4. 📱 Instagram now allows users to create their own augmented reality filters
Facebook’s previously closed Spark AR Studios beta has become available to everyone. Available on both Mac and PC, the program allows users to create their own original 3D face filters, including tools to import objects sounds, synch movements, and publish those filters on Instagram.

5. 🌎 ‘I am afraid’: a first-ever poll shows how worried greenlanders are about climate change
A new survey reveals that climate change is putting undue stress on Greenlanders’ lives, livelihoods, and emotions.

6. ⌚ Hodinkee adds a special tool to Victorinox’s iconic Swiss Army Knife
The Watchmaker limited edition has a tool for those who want to give their movements a closer look.

7. 🎮 ‘It’s a continuous investment’: Kellogg’s shifts sports-related ad spending to esports
Advertisers are shifting spending to esports because it offers something that most traditional sports cannot: almost unprecedented access to younger people between the ages of 21 and 34 who have high incomes.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

August 15, 2019

Avatars and Beyond—The digitalization of the self

Last November, fashion retailer Carlings released its first digital-only collection, allowing customers to be virtually dressed up in their purchases. While paying for virtual items is nothing new, could we see a greater shift towards digital personas in the near future?

Carlings: From retailer to digital designer

Carlings is already a successful retailer based in Norway that promotes itself as having “the best jeans in Scandinavia.” It also started carrying digital-only collections since its first foray last November.

Customers purchase an outfit from the 19-piece collection for £9-30, upon which a group of 3D designers will digitally ‘fit’ the look onto the consumer (or the desired subject) in the photo of choice. Just like that, it’s ready for the gram.

For the rest of us, it’s nothing new

As history shows, people pay for perceived value, no matter if that value gets instilled in them and even if that value is contained within something intangible.

For example, ebooks helped bring whole libraries with us in a small device. For online games, it was about busy or casual gamers getting rare items that could help improve their experience. For creatives, it was plugins and stock assets that ultimately saved us time, energy and money.

For the people doing it for likes or just for fun? It’s the promise of looking like a million bucks in a catwalk worthy outfit, but only paying $15 and without having to search for the appropriate size, nor having to deal with a store’s return policy.

Avatars and Beyond

Avatars, handles, usernames and the like are all facets of our digital personas. They provide anonymity, notoriety or enjoyment, perhaps even all at once. But if the mainstream decides to move beyond the headshots and profile pictures and starts to embrace more dynamic and customizable three-dimensional avatars, we might start to see a profound shift in how much value we ascribe to those personas. Eugene once Zepeto-fied the whole team, and thankfully that didn’t become a thing, but who’s to say the cultural currents won’t embolden him to try again?

Could we see a shift in valuing the digital over the physical? If society and companies continue on a path that sees human features as limitations and liabilities, we just might. The rise of virtual influencers like Lil Miquela does show brands’ willingness to play with the idea of having an asset that will always look perfect, never step out of line—and will never have to be paid (unless the humans behind them do wrong, also a real possibility).

What’s Stopping Us?

For the rest of us, our digital personas could be written off as simply an extension of the “personal brand” we use to streamline our complex selves for online interactions that encompass our work and careers. However, like the struggle for work-life balance, we’ll have to be wary of an upset digital-physical balance where we conflate living our “best lives” and living it through our best lies.

For real value to come through, we believe a handful of things need to happen:

  1. Our digital lives become increasingly important, such as video games and social sharing (check, social media anyone?)
  2. The ability to showcase and acquire rare and collectibles assets (check, especially in video games via skins)
  3. The ability to take these rare and collectible assets all across our digital worlds (WIP, the infrastructure is emerging but definitely not consumer friendly)
  4. The digitization of brands that have existing real-world relevance (Carlings is a start, though far from a globally-relevant brand. Give us Nikes, adidas, Gucci, Stone Island, Rimowa, and more)

It’s important to consider that in this particular use case, our general human behavior of wanting to collect and show off hyped things hasn’t changed so much as it has reemerged in digital worlds. Game on.

August 15, 2019

News ⚡ — Thursday, August 15

The NFL and Jay-Z team up on music and social justice. A$AP Rocky charged with assault but safe from prison. Pace Gallery is launching PaceX to unite art and tech.

1. 🏈 NFL and Jay-Z team up on music and social justice campaign
The partnership brings together two of the country’s biggest brands, as well as the league and a vocal critic.

2. 👍 A$AP Rocky guilty of assault in Sweden but won’t face prison time
The ruling — a victory of sorts for the rapper — comes in a case that has gripped the music world, as well as President Trump.

3. 🖼️ Pace Gallery is launching PaceX, an ambitious new initiative to promote projects that unite art and technology
Christy MacLear, who recently served as vice chairman of Sotheby’s advisory arm, will lead the new initiative as a way to support tech-minded artists.

4. 💻 Intel introduces “Engineered for mobile performance” badge to indicate compliance with Project Athena specifications
The label will be used to indicate, starting on Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop, a guaranteed nine hours of battery life, near-instant boot times, and small footprints.

5. 🤝 Automattic’s bargain-bin Tumblr deal plugs right into the WordPress business model
Tumblr, while unprofitable, hosts more than 450 million blogs and was once considered a major player in the social media space. The network was acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion in 2013, before moving under Verizon’s umbrella through the carrier’s acquisition of Yahoo in 2017.

6. 🚰 Dasani’s new vending machine is BYOB [bring your own bottle]
As part of a plan to reduce its plastic waste footprint, bottled water giant Dasani is rolling out a new way to pay to hydrate yourself: a machine that dispenses water (or seltzer), but only if you already have a bottle. But ultimately, Dasani has no intentions of stopping the sale of water in plastic bottles.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

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