RocaNews - 🌊 Badger Finds Treasure


January 11, 2022

Holy smokes: 58 years ago today, the US Surgeon General first declared a link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer. Big Tobacco hasn't looked the same since. Back then, over 40% of US adults smoked cigs; now, less than 15% do. We've moved on to eating Tide pods.

You've heard of fintech and biotech, but have you heard of faithtech? Today's Wrap explores this new sector that is attracting big bucks from Silicon Valley.

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Key Stories

Grand Theft Mobile


  • Take-Two Interactive, the video game company behind Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and NBA 2K, is acquiring Zynga for $12.7B
  • Zynga is the mobile game company behind FarmVille and Words with Friends
  • The companies said the move would help them compete with the dominant gaming companies, including Activision Blizzard and EA
  • Companies are pouring money into mobile gaming, one of the fastest-growing sections of the gaming industry. Take-Two suggested the deal may be used to make its console games, including GTA, 2K, and Red Dead, available on mobile

The video game industry has boomed in recent years, and the pandemic gave it an added boost. In 2021, people spent an estimated $180B on video games globally.

16 Top Universities Sued

  • 5 students filed lawsuits accusing 16 top US universities of conspiring to limit financial aid
  • The lawsuit accuses the schools – which include Yale, Columbia, Duke, and Notre Dame – of using a shared formula to calculate financial need, enabling them to set artificially low levels of aid and favor wealthy students
  • The law lets colleges use the same aid formula if and only if the schools don't consider financial need in admissions. The lawsuits says the schools do consider need in admissions
  • Lawyers say 170k+ former students who received aid from the schools may be eligible to join the suit

Part of the suit says that these "need-blind" schools aren't actually need-blind: They prefer the children of wealthy donors or applicants who don't need aid. If that's the case, they aren't allowed to share aid formulas. 

Space Heater + Bad Doors Behind Bronx Fire

  • Authorities said that a space heater started the apartment fire in New York City on Sunday that killed 17 and was the city's deadliest fire in 30 years
  • The fire happened in a 19-story apartment tower in the Bronx, the northernmost of NYC's 5 boroughs
  • A space heater caught fire, causing a family to flee their apartment. Their door was supposed to shut automatically, containing the blaze, but it malfunctioned and "stayed fully open"
  • Since 2018, the law requires NYC apartments to have automatically-closing doors. This apartment had an auto-closing door, but it failed

The heat hadn't been working properly in the apartment where the fire began, residents said. The inhabitants were running space heaters for a "prolonged period" before the blaze. 

Olive Oil Helps the Heart

  • Researchers at Harvard found that people who eat .5 tablespoons or more of olive oil daily are significantly less likely to die from various diseases
  • Of 92k people tracked over 28 years, those who ate .5+ tablespoons of olive oil daily were 29% less likely to die from Alzheimer's,19% less likely to die from heart disease or stroke, and 17% less likely to die from cancer
  • The researchers hypothesize olive oil has beneficial “anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties”
  • It was the first long-term study of olive oil's health benefits conducted specifically on Americans, the researchers said

“Clinicians should be counseling patients to replace certain fats, such as margarine and butter, with olive oil to improve their health,” said the scientist who led the study.

finger What do you think?

Today's Poll:
Do you view the Space Force as a joke?


Today's Question:
Do you prefer local news or national news? Why?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap!

popcorn Popcorn

Culture & Sports 
  • Party in Athens like it's 400 BC! The University of Georgia Bulldogs vanquished the Alabama Crimson Tide for its first title since 1980
  • Shattering the glass dugout: The NY Yankees are promoting a woman to manager of a minor league team for the first time in MLB history
  • The Season 2 premiere of Euphoria starring Emmy winner Zendaya notched the most-watched premiere on HBO Max to date
  • The Michael Jackson musical MJ is previewing in advance of its February 1 opening. There are 3 Michael Jacksons in the show
  • Bitcoin's off to a rough start in 2022, dipping below $40,000 at one point on Monday. It has fallen about 40% since November
  • Mi casa, su Covid test: Health insurers will be required to cover 8 home Covid tests per month, starting this Saturday
  • Record revenue for the App Store? Apple said Monday that it paid developers $60B in 2021, implying a record increase for the App Store

  • California Leanin': The Millennium Tower in San Francisco is now leaning 26 inches after stabilization work worsened its tilt
  • 15M+ are under wind chill alerts as the coldest air in 3 years sweeps through the upper Midwest and into New England
  • A badger is being credited with discovering a trove of 209 Roman coins in Northern Spain after foraging for food in a cave

Roca Wrap

A Newsletter Exclusive

The share of Americans with no religious affiliation hit a record high of 29% in 2021. Investors aren’t phased, though: They’re betting millions that a technological faith revolution is just getting started.  

The use of and investments in faith-based apps, mainly Christian, hit record highs in 2021. Between March and August, downloads of the top Christian meditation apps hit 2.3M, 325% higher than the same period in 2020. Downloads for, an app for daily prayer and bedtime Bible stories, increased 955% during the pandemic. The YouVersion BibleApp, which offers 600 translations of the Bible in 400 languages, logged 500M+ downloads during the pandemic. 

Investors took note, leading to what one San Francisco based venture capitalist called “a land grab” to invest in religious apps. While venture capital investments are typically secular, the pandemic crystallized the growing desire in the US for a spiritual digital space. 

In total, faith-based, for-profit startup apps attracted over $175M in venture funding in 2021, up from $48.5M in 2020 and $6.1M in 2016. Glorify, an app that offers Christian prayer and music, and Hallow, a Catholic prayer app downloaded more than 1.5M times, each raised an additional $40M this year. Most faith-app investments went to Christian apps.  

The pandemic was a boon for religious apps, with places of worship forced to close and more people seeking faith-based communities online. The tech tools popularized by the pandemic, such as video conferencing, community building, and fundraising, all fit the religion industry. “Shame on the venture capital community for not recognizing the opportunity sooner,” said Brett Martin, co-founder of an early-stage venture capital firm in New York. 

Most of the apps, including Glorify and Hallow, use a hybrid subscription model, where some content is locked behind a paywall. Paying for access to religion has irked some clergy members.  

“I don’t think any religious app should be for-profit,” a rector for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception told the Wall Street Journal. “Prayer is always free.” Glorify’s co-founder Ed Beccle notes anyone can use the free version of Glorify, but the for-profit structure allows the company to attract the best talent and create the best app. 

Investments in faith-based apps remain a tiny portion of the overall venture capital market (we’re talking millions, not billons). However the writing is on the wall: Investors are betting that faith-based tech may be the next big thing.                                                                           
If you have thoughts, let us know at and don't forget to share this Wrap with family and friends by using this link here!
Future Wrap ideas or requests? Let us know!

think Games

Wake up and smell the PEMDAS! 3 math equations to start your day.
  1. 9 - 8 x (5 - 4)
  2. -20 + 5 x 6 - 1
  3. 2 x 8 - 3 (6 / 3)
Find out the answer at the bottom of Roca Clubhouse.

wave Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Better breakfast meal: blueberry pancakes or eggs & bacon? 

Blueberry pancakes 21.9%
Eggs & bacon: 78.1%

Yesterday's Question:

What do you see as the biggest problem for the economy today? Why?

Shelbie from Oregon: "Inflation. Increased cost of living expenses being directly increased by minimum wage and the Fed printing extra money for the Covid bills (40% of the US cash was printed in the last year)."

Rose from London: "Excessive profit. Profiteering Greed. Excessive income and entitlement in political and corporate spheres driving obscene price markets of the 5 basic needs without sound home manufacturing in western nations."

Sam from Austin: "Our national debt. It makes us look like a total joke. If the government can't manage money well, that doesn't make the citizens confident or want to try to help create a healthy economy. "

General Feedback:

Rich from northern New York: "sorry to criticize, but blueberry  pancakes AND bacon should be its own category, as this is the best breakfast!"

Monica from California: "How sad is it that giving cows a VR simulation that gives them a small sense of happiness literally improves their milk output (if true). Cows are treated so inhumanely in large dairy facilities, it's disgusting. I hope this theory turns into a scientific study that eventually convinces farmers that treating their animals better will actually help their business in the long run."

"The Person": "make an apppppp. please. pretty please. no seriously please do an app"

20 Questions: 6-10

Every Friday, we ask the Roca Riders 20 questions and feature a few of our favorite answers.

6. What's a moment that didn't stand out at the time but ended up being tremendously significant?
"Text from a random number I didn’t know saying hello. It ended up being an old friend whos now my wife"
"When my coworkers and I were reading an article about China building the hospitals in days to deal with all the COVID cases there. We thought it was crazy and that nothing like that would happen here. Man, were we wrong."
"Going on a trip to France in middle school. It sparked a lifelong love affair with France and Europe and I ended up living there for several years during and after college."

7. Will attitudes toward Covid change once the current omicron wave subsides? 
"Yes - people are ready to treat it as a chronic manageable disease - and done with over reactions and lockdowns"
"Maybe. Covid fatigue is 100% a thing now"
"No I've given up on any minds changing"

8. What's a part of your culture you are proud of?
"SEC college football dominance"
"Bagels. Guess where I'm from"
"The first 8 seasons of the Simpsons"

9. What's a part of your culture you are NOT proud of?
"LOTS of drinking"
"50% of my people are Pessimistic and grumpy"
"The treatment of minors by religious leaders"

10. Best Seinfeld character OUTSIDE of the big 4?
"Soup Nazi"
"Hello NEWMAN"
"Frank Costanza (George's dad)"
Games Answer(s):
1) 1 2) 9 3) 10

Final Thoughts 

For our readers in the northeast US and eastern Canada, we hope you've got your parkas ready: A polar vortex is sweeping the region, putting 15M people under wind-chill alerts. In Max Frost's northern NY hometown, we're talking -20ºF (-29ºC)! 

Yet at Roca, we are unfazed: People have been warning us to "chill" for decades and we haven't listened yet. What's a couple more days of the usual? 

Happy Tuesday and stay warm!

-Max & Max

wave Today's Instagram Wrap is on an Afghan baby reunited with his family after a separation at the Kabul airport. It will warm your heart!
Thanks for reading! See you again tomorrow!
As always, send thoughts and feedback to
Written by Max Frost and Max Towey | Graphics by Billy Carney

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