Morning Brew - ☕️ Quasi-anarchy

Apple Music revealed how much it pays artists...
April 17, 2021 View Online | Sign Up

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Good morning. Yesterday, President Biden ordered flags to fly at half-staff following the mass shooting at a FedEx facility Thursday night—the fifth time in eight weeks he’s made the order.


+0.7 bps

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 6:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: The S&P and Dow posted their fourth straight week of gains after a busy few days of earnings, Coinbase’s direct listing, and dogecoin doing dogecoin things.
  • Nation: Next month, President Biden will lift the record-low cap on refugee admissions put in place by the Trump administration. Earlier in the day, the White House said it wouldn't lift the cap, but changed its tune following blowback from human rights activists and fellow Democrats.


On Delis and Dogecoin

hometown deli in NJ

Google Earth

Besides producing exquisite high school wrestlers and being the ancestral homeland of Brew Managing Editor Neal Freyman, the small town of Paulsboro, NJ, doesn’t have that many notable qualities.

But this week, the Philly suburb captured the attention of the business world when it came to light that a deli in town is owned by a public company that’s worth more than $100 million. Here’s the thing—the company, called Hometown International, doesn’t own anything else except the deli. And the deli did $35,748 in sales over the last two years.

So how did we find out about it? In his letter to investors, famous hedge fund manager David Einhorn used the example of Hometown International to put the spotlight on a stock market he considers to be “fractured and possibly in the process of breaking completely.” 

  • Einhorn noted that the CEO and largest shareholder of the company is the principal and wrestling coach of nearby Paulsboro High. 
  • “The pastrami must be amazing,” he quipped.

This is about more than pastrami, as amazing as it might be 

Einhorn’s larger point was that “quasi-anarchy” is breaking out in the stock market, and regulators are MIA. Look no further than dogecoin, a cryptocurrency based on a dog meme that shot up more than 400% just this week.  

  • As of last night, Dogecoin’s market cap was nearly $50 billion, more than Ford’s and eBay's.

Dogecoin’s ascent has been powered by a rabid online community led by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who frequently publishes memes about dogecoin on his Twitter account. 

Einhorn is not a fan. Einhorn trashed Musk and celeb investor Chamath Palihapitiya for “destabilizing” the stock market back in January with their tweets and TV appearances in which they egged on retail traders. “The laws don’t apply to him and he can do whatever he wants,” Einhorn wrote of Musk, urging regulators to step in to protect individual investors.

Looking ahead...Einhorn’s letter has revived talk of reining in a “casino”-style market that had died down following the February hearing over GameStop. We’ll see whether Wall Street’s top cop, newly confirmed SEC Chair Gary Gensler, will try to put the doge on a leash. 



Vaccine Tracker

Vaccine tracker

Francis Scialabba

In the US…more than 200 million doses have been administered, per the Biden administration. The pace is picking up: The first 100 million took 89 days, the second 36. Nearly 40% of the population has received at least one dose.

Around the world…vaccine makers hit a major milestone this week: 1 billion doses have been produced. China is the largest producer (21% of all doses), according to Axios.

More headlines

Working the back channels: After US officials paused the rollout of J&J’s vaccine, the company reached out to Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca about creating an “informal alliance” to address concerns over vaccine safety, reports the WSJ. It was rebuffed by Pfizer and Moderna, but AZ, which has also been scrutinized over blood clots, agreed.

Some “breakthrough” cases reported: The CDC said about 5,800 fully vaccinated people were infected with Covid-19. So-called “breakthrough” cases are not unexpected, and represent a tiny fraction of the total number of people who have been vaccinated. The CDC will monitor whether certain types of people are more prone to getting infected once vaccinated. 

Stay tuned for a Sunday Edition deep dive into why the FDA and CDC paused J&J’s vaccine.



A Penny for Your Tracks?

Penny music note

Francis Scialabba

On Friday, Apple Music posted a letter claiming to pay music artists one penny per stream. That may sound like a pittance, but it’s two-to-three times as much as its streaming rival Spotify pays out.

While the statement “we pay twice as much” packs a punch, it has the structural integrity of Swiss cheese. Why?

The answer has to do with how the music biz operates: Streaming services pay rights holders (typically, record labels), instead of sending artists a direct deposit. Over half of Apple’s per-stream take goes to record labels, compared to about two-thirds of every dollar of Spotify revenue.

Plus, Spotify has more streamers who listen to more songs, so while Apple may pay more per stream, it doesn’t pay more in total. Spotify had 155 million paying subscribers at the end of 2020; Apple reported 60+ million in June 2019 (the latest available data). 

  • Not to mention the millions of additional users on Spotify’s free tier, which generates less revenue-per-stream than its paid one. 

Zoom out: The letter was released at a time when artists are fearlessly reworking their music catalogues and relationships with streamers to increase their income. Apple’s announcement could win over listeners who want to support their favorite artists.



Simply Superlative Shoes


The end of the school year is approaching. And even if you’re old and crotchety like us, you know what that means: yearbook superlatives. 

Well this is an ad for shoes, so if you went to school with the CARIUMA IBI Slip-ons (just go with us here), this is what they’d win.

Lowest carbon emission sneaker on the market: CARIUMA IBI Slip-ons

Biggest flirt: CARIUMA IBI Slip-ons—they’re so comfy, it’s like they’re asking your feet if they come here often. 

Most likely to succeed: You in your new CARIUMA IBI Slip-ons—100% vegan sneakers knit from sustainably harvested bamboo and recycled plastics will propel you to new heights. 

Best dressed: See above. CARIUMA IBI Slip-ons are stylish as well as sustainable. 

Most yearbooks don’t do a superlative for most featherweight and machine-washable sneakers, but CARIUMA IBI Slip-ons would win. Because...they’re featherweight and machine-washable. 

What a long, strange trip indeed. 

Get 15% off sustainable, snazzy CARIUMA kicks—for a limited time only—here


Key Performance Indicators

LOTR meme

Stat: Amazon Studios will pay an un-Hobbitlike ~$465 million for just the first season of its upcoming Lord of the Rings TV show. To get a sense of how ridiculous that is, Game of Thrones cost about $100 million/season to produce. Middle Earth real estate > Westeros real estate. 

Quote: “We have been dreaming of this moment for a long time.”

NY Philharmonic conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen greeted the crowd who came to watch the orchestra perform at the Shed in Hudson Yards Wednesday evening. It was the first time the NY Phil had played to an indoor crowd in exactly 400 days. 

Watch: How to teach a robot to pee beer. (Michael Reeves)



Grab Your Reusable Bags for All This Grocery Tech



The future of grocery shopping is here, and it’s not a full-service bar in every Sam’s Club (not a bad idea though). UK online grocer Ocado invested $13.8 million in Oxbotica, a UK autonomous driving startup. 

Ocado also made headlines earlier this week by showing off its fancy new “shed” of delivery-sorting bots as part of its partnership with Kroger. The 375,000-square-foot warehouse outside of Cincinnati will eventually house 1,000 Ocado robots that will fulfill ~20 stores’ worth of orders per day. 

But it’s not the only grocery giant building a fleet of freezer-section robots.

  • The autonomous vehicle company Cruise brought on Walmart as an investor and announced a valuation of $30 billion this week.

Zoom out: Forget a space race, this is a race for human hands to never touch your avocados again. Logistics currently account for ~10% of the total cost of grocery delivery, so even though investing in autonomous vehicles is an expensive regulatory nightmare, companies are betting on the long-term payout—especially as online grocery shopping has become more popular during the pandemic.



  • Morgan Stanley lost $911 million due to the meltdown of Archegos Capital, but otherwise had a phenomenal Q1.
  • FedEx said it would not change its policy of barring cellphones in some work areas following a mass shooting Thursday night at one of its facilities near Indianapolis.
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX beat out Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin for a lunar lander NASA contract.
  • Squarespace, which at least one small biz owner you know used to make their website, filed for a direct listing on the NYSE.


Invest in disruptive biotech. Cytonics has developed biologic therapies for treating the molecular cause of osteoarthritis—a disease where no effective treatments exist and $180 billion is spent managing symptoms. Invest in this revolutionary approach and join their OPO before it closes April 30.*

You’re gonna need a smaller wallet. Because this is the only card you’ll need. You can earn up to 5% cash back, there’s no APR until 2022, and no annual fee. You want it, this card does it. Apply today.*

It’s the hack you’ve all been waiting for: How to fold a fitted sheet, TikTok-style. Thank you to Rachel Cantor at Sidekick for the tip. 

Weekend Conversation Starters:

*This is sponsored advertising content


Brew Crossword: Corporate World


Francis Scialabba

Last week, we brought you three Mini crosswords; this week, we ate our spinach and are back to full-size. 

Big shoutout to Vick Edison for bringing the heat with this puzzle. Play it here

+ Exciting news: Given popular demand, we are taking our puzzling offerings to the next level. The Brew just opened a part-time Puzzle Creator position to help produce crosswords and a bunch of other yet-to-be-released games. If you live and breathe crosswords, sudokus, and trivia, check out the posting and apply.


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Written by Jamie Wilde, Matty Merritt, and Neal Freyman

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