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  • 🥯 Sunday Bunch No. 9: Virtual Meatballs & Sunscreen Smoothies

🥯 Sunday Bunch No. 9: Virtual Meatballs & Sunscreen Smoothies

Meet me at the Taco Bell Cantina by the sea

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Welcome to Sunday Bunch. Thank you for being a subscriber.

Based on your feedback, I am making friends with brevity this week. Going to see if we can’t get out of here in under 1,000 words.

Here we go… 🏃‍♂️

Where did the flow go?

The good: Crunchbase reports that funding ticked up to $31 billion globally in May, the most since September 2023.

The bad: More than a third of it went into just six deals, including Elon Musk’s $6 billion xAI round.

Source: Newcomer

AI may be able to do a lot, but it still struggles with hands and it can’t paint a rosy picture for venture capital deal flow and those seeking it right now.

Virtually employed

🧆 IKEA is offering players $17/hr to serve up meatballs in their new virtual store inside Roblox.

🌯 For comparison: Chipotle pays $13 bucks an hour to make IRL burrito bowls while cameras are shoved in your face by TikTokers lifehacking for extra protein.

DID YOU KNOW?

More than 3% of America’s electricity is used for weed farming and bitcoin mining?

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🤳 The earliest ‘social media babies’ are lobbying to save future generations from parental oversharing.

🫧 Does the rise of index funds spell catastrophe? A great longread from Harper’s, albeit not the most comforting with takeaways like this:

At some point in the future, net flows will become negative. The passive-investing market will be, more or less, a roller coaster gliding over its crest. What then?

🛻 WSJ says no one wants a new car now. The data and supporting anecdotes make a point but also hey look at those shiny Rivians over there.

🍛 We may be driving older cars, but we’re parking them at restaurants and spending at record numbers.

Annual restaurant sales (2019-2024 projected)

Source: National Restaurant Association

👾 Japanese arcades may be one of the best hopes for American malls.

🇺🇸 ‘Born in the USA’ turned 40 and it still doesn’t mean what a lot of people want it to mean. Although the gap is not nearly as hilarious as it is with YMCA.

📲 Marques Brownlee visited Apple’s testing facility and shared some great videos showing how Apple evaluates the durability of iPhones.

👞 MSCHF CEO Gabe Whaley said the company only made 200 pairs of its Big Red Boots, and most of what’s out there in the world is counterfeit.

🧴 Luxury grocer and influencer lounge Erewhon and cocaine nostalgia sunscreen brand Vacation have started selling an SPF 30-inspired smoothie.

🍬 “Health company” (venture-backed, millennial-branded pharma co) Ro launched a line of gummies to help with erectile dysfunction.

The future is the candy aisle and the dispensary and the pharmacy all rolled into one.

Just hopefully not at Erewhon, or none of us will be able to afford a new car.

Date Night

Now that Red Lobster is out, do you want to do the Chili’s in Banff or the oceanfront Taco Bell Cantina in Pacifica?

We could just chill and watch Hit Man

The Richard Linklater-directed film, starring Hollywood’s second most bankable actor of the moment Glen Powell, debuted on Netflix this week after a (deliberately) brief theatrical run.

Or the best Godzilla movie ever?

While Hit Man had been hyped for months, Netflix surprised everyone this week with another big drop: Godzilla Minus One.

The certified fresh (98% / 98%), Japanese-produced prequel took home an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects this year, was named Japan’s best picture of 2023, and even had some calling it the best monster movie ever.

FWIW, I watched both this week:

Hit Man is a ton of fun, all of the Glen Powell hype is legit.

Set in the aftermath of WWII, Godzilla Minus One has a lot more depth than I was prepared for. The filmmakers somehow elevated a monster movie into a human story that feels rooted in real history.

Maybe we just rewatch Gremlins

This oral history from The Ringer, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the movie’s release, sparks serious nostalgia for Joe Dante’s 1984 Christmas classic.

(When you’re done there, you can graduate to The Institute for Gremlins 2 Studies.)

❄️ How many years have you paid the rising price of an Epic or Ikon pass, only to be rewarded with ever-longer lift lines?

Tired of hoping that traffic to Tahoe or Mammoth or [insert local mountain here] isn’t just the slow road to mediocre snow? ☃️

🏂 Life is short. Skip the lines. Get yourself to the powder promised land. 🇯🇵

This winter, head to Hokkaido and hit Japan’s best secret spots with Stealth Backcountry ⛩️

We’re not going to talk about the NBA Finals

And we’re especially not going to talk about how the Lakers passed on Jayson Tatum to take…Lonzo Ball.

We will talk basketball again as soon as the Lakers officially sign their new (reportedly $100 million) head coach.

In the meantime, we should get into Kyrie Irving and his sneakers, which are getting their NBA Finals close-up.

Sneakerheads and politicians alike are taking notice of the signature shoes, made by Chinese sportswear company Anta.

Washington continues to pay attention to the flat earth-curious Irving’s kicks due to reports of forced labor that may go into making his “Twin Flame Anta Kai 1 Speeds” and other Anta shoes and apparel.

In lieu of intervention by the U.S. government, Anta is tracking as one of several emerging brands who, along with some resurgent players like Asics and Salomon, are outpacing the projected annual growth of leaders in the sportswear category.

Source: RBC Capital Markets (via Business of Fashion)

Another of those brands, the Swiss-based ON Running, announced this week that Zendaya is now an official ambassador (the new spokesperson).

Already riding a ton of momentum worldwide, ON is the fastest growing brand in the category and they’re clearly not letting up.

Meanwhile Hoka, the orthopedic shoes that swept the nation, were all over Austin this past week for National Running Day.

Gen Z may be addicted to CCP-run social media and cheap Chipotle, but at least they’re looking out for those arches (propelling parent company Deckers to the second spot in the process).

The casting gap between Winning Time and Clipped says everything you need to know about basketball in Los Angeles.

Having the most toilets in the league isn’t going to change things.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a great rest of the weekend.

Cheers,
BUNCH

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