Hey folks!

Did you know everyone’s hating on Netflix right now? Well, if you don't, let us give you a little backdrop.

You know how last week, a submersible taking tourists to visit the wreck of the Titanic imploded, right? 5 people died and it’s all everyone can talk about.

But Netflix just announced that it’ll be streaming the Titanic movie from the 1st of July onwards in the US and Canada. And people are unhappy with Netflix for trying to milk this tragic event. Capitalism, for the win?

But folks, you have to believe that Netflix didn’t really sort out a licensing deal for the movie within a week of the incident, right? All the terms and conditions, money and lawyers involved would’ve taken a bit of time. Basically, the plan would’ve been set in motion long before the submersible’s disaster.

Maybe the timing is just a coincidence? And maybe we have to give Netflix the benefit of the doubt?

Here’s a soundtrack to put you in the mood 🎵

Sushi Song by When Chai Met Toast

We’ve recommended a song by this band earlier but when our reader Sandeep Pradhan sent us one of their newer songs, we just couldn’t help sharing it with you folks. Especially since holidays to Japan seem to be in vogue these days.

Get your feet tapping and let’s dive in.

3 things that caught our eye this week 👀

#1 Did Google lie?

If you want to run digital video ads today, you’ll most likely get in touch with Google. Not only will the ad giant help you get started on YouTube, but it also has the clout to run these ads on third-party websites. Yup, if you’re ever browsing a new website and you see a video ad pop up, it might be powered by Google.

And Google’s rather sweet about how it charges advertisers for running these ads. It has a service called TrueView which promises advertisers they’ll only have to pay for the ‘true’ view for their videos. What it means is that the advertiser will only pay “when a viewer watches for at least 30 seconds or to the end of the video (whichever is shorter).” They won’t calculate the cost per impression.

And Google has a few rules laid down here.

Firstly, the ads should be skippable and audible. Secondly, it can’t simply pop up when a user is passively scrolling and there has to be some interest. Thirdly, the ads will be run only on reputed third-party websites and apps.

All of this sounds great, right? It’s no wonder so many people use Google’s help for video ads.

But…maybe Google lied?

Because Adalytics, a brand ad analytics company, did some research and found that Google flouts its internal standards a staggering 80% of the time. Sometimes it’s to do with poor third-party websites, other times the audio is on mute, and often, the video just auto plays without viewer interaction.

And what’s the outcome of this?

Well, Google tells the advertisers that the ad results are great. That people are watching it beyond the 30-second mark. And then slaps a nice advertising fee for these ‘true’ views. Put all the advertisers like American Express, Samsung, and Disney+ together and Google earns billions of dollars.

Of course, Google has denied all this. But even the Wall Street Journal has seen the results and things aren’t looking good for the tech giant. It has already seen its digital ad market share in the US drop from nearly 40% to 25% in the past few years. Could the downfall be even bigger now?

#2 IRL didn’t have any users IRL

If you’re scratching your head at that line, IRL is just cool internet slang for In Real Life. And what’s happened here is that 6 years ago, a few folks came up with the idea that people were spending too much time glued to their digital devices. They wanted to get people out there in the physical world. They wanted in-person meetups and communities that could be forged based on shared interests. So they created an app to solve for this. Yeah, you needed to download an app to do this first. But still.

Needless to say, investors loved the idea. Maybe they saw their kids on the phones all the time and must’ve felt it was much needed. So they gave the company millions of dollars.

Anyway, when the pandemic struck, suddenly people realized the value of physical relationships too. IRL pivoted briefly and started connecting people to digital events — live streamed concerts, esports, Zoom parties, and all that jazz. Oh, and that meant, it soon became a unicorn. It claimed it had 20 million monthly active users.

But let’s just say it was all a charade, shall we?

Apparently, the board of directors at the company launched an investigation and found that more than 95% of the accounts were bots! Yup, IRL didn’t have those users IRL.

Now we’re written a few stories about why all this mess happens. So we won’t repeat ourselves about why founders lie and why investors get fooled. But all these scams are just “I told you so” moments for business owners who’ve probably been putting their heads down and working hard. Like these tweets that Fortune pulled out.

“Building a real business without fraud means it’s nearly impossible to reach ‘unicorn status’ in a few years time.” — Sara Mauskopf, CEO of Winnie, a marketplace for childcare.

“Oh, man, the number of times I’ve been asked why my company isn’t growing as fast as X and then found out X was a fraud all along.” — Sean Byrnes, former CEO of Outlier.ai.

So if you’re a founder, the first thing on your mission statement these days should probably be — “We won’t lie. We won’t cheat. We’ll stay humble.”

#3 Is the artificial sweetener Aspartame dead?

Coke and Wrigley’s Orbit chewing gum have sugar-free products. But they still taste sweet because of the addition of an artificial sweetener called Aspartame. And it’s become a big industry worth nearly $400 million.

But there’s a hurdle in aspartame’s path now. Apparently, a World Health Organization memo is going to declare the additive as”possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Or in simple words, it’s a warning that it might cause cancer. And everyone’s panicking because no one likes to hear the word cancer, right?

Now this is a bolt out of the blue. Because since the 1980s, a WHO committee that looks into such additives has deemed Aspartame safe. Provided it’s within accepted daily limits. For instance, if you’re an adult over 60 kg, they typically have said that you’ll be at risk if you drink more than 12 cans of soda a day that’s laced with aspartame.

So suddenly crying cancer is a little scary now.

Also, previous such classifications have hurt industries like the herbicide Glyphosate which was called ‘probably carcinogenic’. People have blamed their cancer on it and the global pharmaceutical company Bayer has been taken to court over it. So even the industry will be on tenterhooks.

But there’s something you should know about these classifications.

Firstly, there are four different levels of classification — “carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic and not classifiable”. It’s based on the evidence they find. So Aspartame is sort of at level three if we go by this.

Secondly, here are some other stuff that comes in the level one or ‘carcinogenic’ classification: Alcohol., Tobacco smoking. Processed meat. Outdoor air pollution.

So yeah, there seems to be things much worse than aspartame. And now it’s your call what you want to put into your body.

Infographic 📊

Readers Recommend 🗒️

Andrew Huberman’s Guest Series with Dr Andy Galpin

This recommendation is by our reader Rajat Seth. And it’s a YouTube playlist that’s a series of 6 videos talking about health and fitness.

If you haven’t heard of Andrew Huberman, he’s a 47-year-old Stanford University neuroscientist who hosts the Huberman Lab podcast, and he has become quite the rockstar wellness influencer these days.

The only disclaimer we’ll add since it’s a video related to health is to please seek out professional advice before changing your diet, exercise, and fitness regimens.

Finshots Weekly Quiz 🧩

And the winner of our previous weekly quiz is…🥁

Deependra Nawalgaria!

Congratulations, Deependra. Keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll get in touch with you soon to send over your favourite Finshots merch.

And for the rest of you, here’s your next chance to grab the winner’s crown. Click on this 👉🏽 link, answer all the questions correctly and tune in next week to check if you got lucky.

Also, for those of you who’ve asked how we select the winners, it’s pretty simple really. We take the thousands of correct answers we get each week, run them through a random generator and it throws out a winner! Yup, it’s completely random.

So yeah, until we meet next weekend, you know the drill — keep sending us your favourite book, music, business movies, documentaries or podcast recommendations. We’ll feature them in the newsletter! Just hit reply to this email (or if you’re reading this on the web, drop us a message: morning@finshots.in).


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