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Morning Brew

Knightscope

Good morning. Each Pi Day, we remind you about Akira Haraguchi, who in 2016 set the unofficial world record for reciting the most digits of pi: 100,000 over more than 16 hours. He did it by mentally linking each digit with a syllable and creating a collection of epic stories from the words those syllables formed.

For Haraguchi, pi is more than just a number—it’s a spiritual calling. He told The Guardian: “All things in this world, including ourselves, are aggregate sums of atoms, which are made up of rotating electrons. The ultimate history of mankind is moving toward a happy ending for people of all races. The Earth, the galaxy, and the universe all rotate. In other words, I think rotation is the absolute truth. So as long as I’m thinking about pi, I think I can live a life according to truth.”

Happy Pi Day!

—Cassandra Cassidy, Matty Merritt, Molly Liebergall, Abby Rubenstein, Neal Freyman

MARKETS

Nasdaq

16,177.77

S&P

5,165.31

Dow

39,043.32

10-Year

4.192%

Bitcoin

$73,316.12

US Steel

$40.86

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

  • Markets: Stocks were a mixed bag yesterday as tech companies, Nvidia included, fell. Things were not looking solid for US Steel, which plunged following reports that President Biden intends to raise serious concerns about its planned $14.9 billion sale to Japan’s Nippon Steel.
 

TECH

House approves bill that could ban TikTok

TikTok logo with prohibition stamp over it Francis Scialabba

Huge news for your friend who takes any opportunity to humble-brag that they “aren’t really on TikTok.” In a rare bipartisan move, the House passed legislation to effectively ban TikTok in a 352–65 vote yesterday.

Getting through the House is the furthest that federal legislation targeting TikTok has gone since lawmakers started questioning whether the app’s Chinese ownership hurts national security. But the bill, which would require TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell or shut down the app, now faces the Simon Cowell of the legislative branch: the Senate.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has remained noncommittal and hasn’t clarified when he’ll bring the bill to the Senate floor, setting the stage for what could be a lengthy process to get it passed.
  • Some senators, including Sen. Rand Paul, are concerned that the bill may violate the right to free speech.

What would a ban change?

If the bill does become law, in addition to forcing over 170 million people to find another way to avoid reading a book, a TikTok ban would be a blow to the creator economy, small businesses, and advertisers.

  • Experts predict that creators and subsequently their followers would head to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat to make up for the loss.
  • The shift would be a W for US-based Meta and Alphabet, which would presumably take some of TikTok’s ad dollars.

What TikTok has to say: “It’s a ban based on zero evidence,” a spokesperson for the company told the WSJ. TikTok has spent over $21 million since 2019 lobbying to fight a ban, according to the nonprofit research group OpenSecrets.

China is also irked. A spokesperson for the foreign ministry accused the US of “suppressing TikTok” and said, “In the end, this will inevitably come back to bite the United States itself.” Meanwhile, TikTok is banned in China (though a similar but heavily censored app is allowed) and in some other countries.—CC

     

PRESENTED BY KNIGHTSCOPE

Get your slice before it’s gone

Knightscope

Who doesn’t want a bigger piece of the pie?

A company called Knightscope is making it a little bit easier. At least when it comes to your financial pie.

Knightscope is offering to pay you 10% cash interest on your investment every year for up to five years.

Knightscope is a leading developer of autonomous security robots, a booming $119b market. They’ve consistently delivered double-digit growth by scaling their reach across the country. Now they’re issuing bonds to help them meet the growing demand for their innovative, AI-powered security robots.

But today’s the final day to invest. Secure your 10% annual interest before the last crumb disappears.

Invest in Knightscope bonds by today’s deadline.

WORLD

Tour de headlines

Don Lemon in a tuxedo Gilbert Flores/Getty Images

Don Lemon says Elon Musk killed X show deal after interview. The former CNN anchor said he thought the billionaire would be the perfect first guest for his independent show on X—a platform he’d been wooed to create a show for as part of its video push—butbut that after a “tense at times” exchange, Musk canceled the partnership. “Apparently, free speech absolutism doesn’t apply when it comes to questions about him from people like me,” Lemon said, noting he still plans to post the interview on X. Meanwhile, Musk said Lemon lacked authenticity and that “his approach was basically just ‘CNN, but on social media’, which doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that CNN is dying.”

Some charges nixed in Georgia election interference case against Trump. A Georgia judge partially dismissed the criminal case accusing former President Donald Trump and several others of trying to subvert the state’s 2020 presidential vote, tossing six counts that accused Trump and some codefendants of soliciting state officials to violate their oaths of office. But that leaves most of the 41-count indictment intact. The judge has not yet ruled on the defendants’ ethics allegations against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over her romantic relationship with another lawyer on the case.

The EU passed landmark AI regulations. While the US can’t quite decide how it wants to regulate the potentially world-altering tech, EU lawmakers are forging a path forward. Yesterday, the European Parliament voted in favor of sweeping rules to govern AI. The regulations, which probably still have some time before they come into force, divide AI by how risky it is and ban the ones deemed “unacceptable.” Between this and its Digital Markets Act, which recently went into effect to crack down on competition in the tech sector, the bloc is becoming the world’s leading tech cop.

RETAIL

Dollar Tree shedding a few of its branches

Dollar Tree store with logo. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Stock up on cheap seasonal decor and tiny containers of frosting while you still can: Dollar Tree said yesterday that it plans to shutter 1,000 stores. The news comes after the company whiffed on its most recent quarterly earnings.

The company, which operates 16,700+ stores, will close 600 Family Dollar locations in the next year, accounting for about 12% of that chain. It’ll close an additional 370 Family Dollars and 30 Dollar Trees over the next few years.

What happened? Dollar Tree CEO Rick Dreiling blamed inflation and a decrease in SNAP benefits. The company has also faced challenges since outbidding rival Dollar General in 2015 to acquire the Family Dollar chain for $8 billion:

  • It turns out the Family Dollar stores were in atrocious shape, and Dollar Tree has spent the last nine years trying to clean them up.
  • Last year, Family Dollar was fined a record $41.6 million for selling products from a rodent-infested warehouse in Arkansas.

Meanwhile…Dollar General is the fastest-growing retailer in the country, opening 1,000 stores a year. But that growth is facing community pushback and competition from new mega-cheap rivals like online retailers like Temu and Shein.—MM

     

TOGETHER WITH LETSGETCHECKED

LetsGetChecked

Self-care is proactive care. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and to honor it, here are three important facts: First, early-stage colon cancer (when it’s most treatable) often has no symptoms, so screenings are crucial. Next, LetsGetChecked offers noninvasive screenings you can do from home. And finally, Brew readers save 25% with code BREW2024.

AI

A new AI can do coders’ jobs for them

Person saying “here we go” RuPaul’s Drag Race/MTV

If your partner works in software engineering and keeps saying “Devin” in their sleep, they’re not cheating on you—they’re having nightmares about an AI that could render them obsolete.

This week, a startup called Cognition surprise-unveiled Devin, an autonomous programming tool it bills as “the first AI software engineer,” in a post on X. Human software engineers promptly spiraled in the replies.

What makes this AI unique? Devin has a name like any software guru from work whom you might ping for bug fixes…and that’s the whole idea: Ask Devin in plain English to figure out a glitch or build a website, and it can get right to it with the force of an entire engineering team—learning, planning tasks, and writing code, all while showing you its work in just minutes, according to Bloomberg. Early reviewers say one capability that makes Devin remarkable (and, arguably, terrifying) is that it can create and train its own AI minions.

Battle of the AI assistants. According to Cognition’s tests, Devin can autonomously resolve issues ~14% of the time—almost triple the numbers put up by its competitors, including OpenAI’s GPT-4, Microsoft’s Copilot, Meta’s Llama, and Anthropic’s Claude.

Looking ahead…major tech investors, including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, have thrown $21 million behind Cognition’s future. Devin is still in its early access phase, but once it’s widely available, there is hope it could help software geeks do their jobs, rather than outright replace them.—ML

     

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

A scene from Super Mario Maker Nintendo

Stat: Whether he has a questionable Italian accent or sounds like Chris Pratt, Mario inspires devotion—and that dedication is now being proven by the gamers known as Team 0%, who are trying to beat every level of Super Mario Maker on Wii U before Nintendo shuts its servers down on April 8. There were 178 unbeaten levels last week, per GamesRadar, and as of yesterday, Team 0% had made it 99.9% of the way there, with just four levels left to go. One Thwomp-like obstacle in their path to gaming glory is a level called “Trimming the Herbs,” which requires split-second timing and hasn’t been cleared in the 58,279 attempts so far.

Quote: “I cannot just leave Apple and Amazon, like I did Spotify, because my music would have very little streaming outlet to music lovers at all.”

Two years after ditching Spotify in protest of its $200 million deal to distribute Joe Rogan’s podcast exclusively, Neil Young says he’s returning his music to the platform. But the singer’s still not a fan of the experience Rogan provides listeners—rather, Spotify has given up exclusivity, meaning that what Young called a “disinformation podcast” will be available wherever you get your podcasts. And he’s still none too happy with Spotify: In announcing his reversal, Young called it the “#1 streamer of low res music in the world” and “where you get less quality than we made.”

Read: Meet the squatters throwing parties in an abandoned Beverly Hills mansion. (Curbed)

NEWS

What else is brewing

  • Adidas posted its first annual loss in 30 years and warned that US sales are hurting. Some of the company’s struggles stem from its costly breakup with rapper Ye as it sells off the last of the Yeezy line.
  • The first rocket launched by Japan’s Space One exploded seconds after launch. (Check out a video here.) The startup wants to be the first Japanese company to get a satellite into space.
  • SpaceX, which has its own history of exploding rockets, may try for its third launch this morning.
  • Trader Joe’s said its popular mini canvas totes will be back in stores this summer. Meanwhile, the currently sold-out status symbols are listed for hundreds of dollars on eBay.
  • A hiker discovered a mysterious monolith on a mountain in Wales in what sure feels like a throwback to 2020.

RECS

To do list Thursday

Work smarter: Tips for making better documents.

Learn: The economic realities of child influencers.

Watch: How the NFL makes more money than any other sports league in the world.

Word on the street: A list of the coolest streets in the world.

Go retro: The Morning Brew retro bundle is best worn with dad shoes and a healthy sense of nostalgia. Bad haircuts not included, but encouraged.

Lifetime flight savings: Save up to $2k on every flight in 2024—and for life. Think Hawaii or Italy from $291 with Dollar Flight Club’s lifetime membership. It’s only $129 (usually $1,690) until midnight.*

*A message from our sponsor.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Brew Mini: Today is Morning Brew’s ninth birthday! In lieu of presents, please play today’s Mini, which contains clues about the early days of our company.

Three Headlines and a Lie

Three of these headlines are real and one is faker than a LinkedIn DM from someone promising to level up your skills. Can you spot the odd one out?

  1. Concert ticket resale startup founded by woman who couldn’t get Eras Tour ticket
  2. Staff at a Virginia wildlife center pretend to be red foxes as they care for an orphaned kit
  3. Australian billionaire revives dream to set sail on Titanic II
  4. Kobe Bryant statue features several typos, Lakers working to correct them

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ANSWER

A Swiftie hasn’t founded a ticket resale startup…that we know of.

Word of the Day

Today’s Word of the Day is: atrocious, meaning “appalling and horrifying.” Thanks to Brooke from Portland, OR, for the not-at-all-nasty suggestion. Submit another Word of the Day here.


✢ A Note From Knightscope

This is a paid advertisement for Knightscope Inc.’s Reg A offering. Please read the offering circular at https://bond.knightscope.com/.

         
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