Morning Brew - ☕️ Vinyl revival

Your car might be tattling on you...
March 12, 2024 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

Timeline Nutrition

Good morning. The deadline is fast approaching: If you haven’t already, you must adjust your microwave clock an hour forward by EOD or ride it out until November when it’ll be accurate again. There is no wrong decision.

—Molly Liebergall, Cassandra Cassidy, Sam Klebanov, Abby Rubenstein, Neal Freyman

MARKETS

Nasdaq

16,019.27

S&P

5,117.94

Dow

38,769.66

10-Year

4.104%

Bitcoin

$72,325.86

Boeing

$192.49

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 3:00am ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

Markets: Stocks were mixed yesterday as investors looked ahead to what today’s government inflation data will bring. Boeing took a dive following reports that the government has opened a criminal probe into the incident in which a door plug blew off one of its planes mid-flight. The stock is down 24% this year.

 

FOOD & BEV

The goth kid of canned water valued above $1b

Three Liquid Death cans Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

As a nonalcoholic-beverage maker funposting its way through an era of sober curiosity, Liquid Death is turning its water into wine by…not turning it into wine.

The skull-branded water company you’ve probably mistaken for an IPA brewery was valued at $1.4 billion yesterday when it got $67 million in fresh funds from investors, including Dune actor Josh Brolin, NFL player DeAndre Hopkins, and entertainment group Live Nation, which already sells Liquid Death at its venues. That’s double its $700 million valuation from 2022.

The company’s eccentrically designed tallboy cans are meant to fit right in with whatever spiked beverages your friends are passing around the party, and they’re here at the perfect time:

  • So many people are going booze-free that sales of near beer, mocktails, kombucha, and other nonalcoholic alternatives popped by 30% last year, according to Ad Age.
  • They’re expected to grow another 25% through 2026.

Against this backdrop…Liquid Death has diversified over the past few years, expanding into iced tea and flavored seltzers. Its latest foray, announced last month, is an electrolyte powder mix called Death Dust that could be a first step into a crowded energy drink market where another disruptor, Celsius, continues to make gains.

Hydration is becoming rad as hell. With the edgy wholesomeness of a biker gang that does volunteer work, Liquid Death says most of its success comes from marketing itself as a cool-looking, sustainable thirst-quencher for passionate weirdos who give swirlies to peer-pressurers. Liquid Death has amassed 7.9 million followers across TikTok and Instagram by doing things Fiji and Poland Spring would never dare, including:

  • Releasing an iced tea–lemonade beverage named “Armless Palmer” and then renaming it “Dead Billionaire” after Arnold Palmer’s family threatened to sue.
  • Selling skateboards printed with Tony Hawk’s actual blood to raise money for an anti-plastic nonprofit.
  • Collabing with Travis Barker on a limited-edition enema.

It’s making its mark: At least 240 people have a tattoo of Liquid Death’s flaming skull logo, according to Forbes.—ML

     

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A cellular power move

Timeline Nutrition

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WORLD

Tour de headlines

President Joe Biden speaking at a podium Jim Watson/Getty Images

Biden’s budget would hike taxes on the rich, corporations. The president submitted a $7.3 trillion budget to Congress that would raise taxes on billionaires and businesses to put more cash into social programs, including Social Security and Medicare. But, like all presidential budgets, it’s got about as much chance of getting passed by Congress as a bill guaranteeing each American a pet unicorn, so it’s mostly a statement of Biden’s priorities—the 2024 budget is still being hashed out.

Drug companies are urging courts to block Medicare drug price negotiations. Pharmaceutical companies have filed a slew of suits around the country to get federal judges to invalidate a government program aimed at lowering drug costs for seniors by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, as is the norm in many other countries, according to the Washington Post. The fate of the program, which is a central part of President Biden’s economic plans, will likely be determined by the Supreme Court. The companies argue it’s unconstitutional and would inhibit their ability to develop new treatments.

At least 50 people were hurt during a mid-flight “technical event.” Passengers were injured because of what Chile’s LATAM Airlines called “strong movement” on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner traveling from Sydney to New Zealand. Media reports quoted passengers saying the plane, which was carrying 272 people, dropped suddenly while many people were not wearing their seatbelts. Several people were treated for minor injuries at the airport, and 13 were taken to the hospital.

AUTO

Cars are narcing about your bad driving to insurers

“Is this a pigeon?” meme The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird/Sunrise

As the MTV reality show Pimp My Ride made clear long ago, sometimes cars do too much.

The New York Times reports that some car manufacturers share drivers’ data with insurance companies, sometimes without their knowledge, prompting another round of concerns about privacy and the auto industry.

Several manufacturers, including General Motors, Honda, Kia, and Hyundai, allow drivers with internet-connected vehicles to opt in to programs that monitor their driving. The carmakers claim they have permission from drivers to collect data, but the NYT notes it’s often through the fine print that few read. And even when drivers knowingly opt in to data collection, they don’t always realize their data is being shared with a third party.

  • The NYT reported the data—which includes instances of speeding, hard braking, and sudden accelerations—gets transferred to data brokers, like LexisNexis, which then sell that information to insurance providers.
  • Some drivers found their insurance rates doubled due to their LexisNexis report.

A legal expert told the NYT that stealthy data sharing doesn’t even do much to boost safety, since car owners don’t realize their driving behavior could determine insurance premiums.

It’s got the government’s attention. Last year, a report by the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation found that cars were the worst product for privacy—and since then it’s been top of mind for policymakers. The California Privacy Protection Agency is investigating privacy practices for internet-connected cars, and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey urged the FTC to look into manufacturers’ data practices last month.—CC

     

TOGETHER WITH BETTERMENT

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ECONOMY

Records will now factor into UK inflation calculations

Record player money Francis Scialabba

Vinyl is so in that the British government cares about how much it costs again. Records have been returned to the group of goods whose prices the UK uses to track inflation to better reflect current shopping trends, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday.

Record sales

After being booted from the British consumer price index in 1992 and spending years as the exclusive domain of fedora wearers who can’t shut up about the arthouse short they saw in 70mm, the bulky black disks have gone mainstream again.

  • UK vinyl sales hit their highest point since 1990 last year, according to the British Phonographic Industry.
  • Meanwhile, Billboard says American crackle-enjoyers bought 49.6 million records in 2023, up 14% from 2022—when vinyl outsold CDs for the first time since the ’80s, per the Recording Industry Association of America.

As with many positive economic trends these days, Swifties had something to do with it. Taylor Swift’s latest album, 1989 (Taylor’s Version), was the top-selling record in the UK last year. And in the US, it sold 580,000 records in the six days after its release last fall, per Luminate, making it the biggest vinyl sales week since the music analytics company began tracking sales in 1991.

Alongside records…air fryers and pumpkin seeds were among the 16 products added to the UK inflation analysis, indicating that Brits aspire to eat healthier.—SK

     

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

Kate Middleton and her children in an image released to celebrate Mother's Day that was later retracted by photo services for being digitally altered @KensingtonRoyal / X

Quote: “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing.”

The family photo Kensington Palace posted on Sunday to mark the UK’s Mother’s Day was intended to shut down overzealous conspiracy theorists questioning the Princess of Wales’s health and whereabouts following planned abdominal surgery, but, thanks to some questionable photoshopping, it turned out to be more like trying to put out a kitchen fire by dousing it with a nearby bottle of vodka. Yesterday, after major photo services pulled the image for being too digitally doctored, Kate Middleton apologized via X “for any confusion” the photo caused (though she took no specific accountability for lopping off a chunk of her daughter’s arm).

Stat: Drivers who aren’t too interested in following the law have found a new hack to avoid paying tolls: obscuring their license plates so the cameras can’t capture the number and bill them. According to the Wall Street Journal, New York City’s transit agency said it cost them $21 million last year, 137% more than in 2020. And agencies in Dallas and San Francisco estimated it lost them more than $33 million combined. So, how are drivers evading their reach? Some use special devices purchased online, while others take a DIY approach with duct tape or even face masks, per the WSJ.

Read: Walmart bought a finance app and reduced fraud protections. Guess what happened next. (ProPublica)

NEWS

What else is brewing

  • Reddit will be targeting a valuation of nearly $6.5 billion and looking to raise ~$750 million in its upcoming IPO.
  • Airbnb banned indoor security cameras in all listings, so now you’ll only have to worry about the cleaning fees.
  • Telegram’s founder told the Financial Times that the encrypted messaging app has 900 million users and is making “hundreds of millions” off advertising, which should make the company profitable next year.
  • Elon Musk, who is suing to force OpenAI to make its tech open source, said his competing company, xAI, will make the code for its chatbot, Grok, public this week.
  • The Oscars drew 19.5 million viewers, with the Barbenheimer hype helping to make it the most viewed awards show since 2020.
  • The House is scheduled to vote tomorrow on legislation that would effectively ban TikTok in the US.

RECS

Tuesday To Do List

Watch: It’s not exactly upcycling, but a brewer makes wine from Mountain Dew.

Learn: The history of pasta shapes.

Bake: Impress your friends with these pretty tarts.

Going for a song: This WSJ video explains how Wall Street bankers are turning pop hits into bonds.

E-comm leaders: Tap into profitable growth with these three investments. Learn more from VTEX.*

*A message from our sponsor.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Brew Mini: On Sunday, she’s winning best actress at the Oscars; on Tuesday she’s a clue in the Brew Mini. Know who we’re talking about? Find out here.

Fudged photo trivia

While everyone’s talking about manipulated photos…in 2003, US poster companies received backlash when they tweaked the cover of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

Below is the manipulated image. What’s different about it from the original album artwork?

Manipulated Abbey Road cover

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ANSWER

On the real cover, Paul McCartney is holding a cigarette in his right hand. That’s what was airbrushed out. (Apple Corps, which owns the rights to the Iain Macmillan photo, did not give permission for the change.)

Word of the Day

Today’s Word of the Day is: overzealous, meaning “showing too much enthusiasm.” Thanks to Avery Schrantz from Wisconsin for making the suggestion with just the right level of fervor. Submit another Word of the Day here.

         
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