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Happy Friday folks!

Good morning and Happy Bastille Day. Of course, in France they don’t call it Bastille Day but rather La Fête Nationale (the national celebration) or simply Le Quatorze Juillet (the 14th of July). Here at the Brew, we call it a good reason to start dreaming of retirement at 62 64.

The first disruption to smartphones in 15 years 

Mode Mobile

Tech startup with traction: This week, eyes have been on the launch of Mode Mobile’s public fundraising. It’s the latest in a series of impressive raises among smartphone innovators, likely spurred by Apple’s recent $3t valuation.

Mode is on a mission to disrupt the smartphone industry with their “EarnPhone,” a budget smartphone that’s helped consumers earn and save $150m+ for activities like listening to music, playing games, and…even charging their devices?!

Early backers are getting up to 70% bonus stock, and in the first week alone, 7,700+ investors have already acquired shares—leaving only ~15% of the bonus allocation up for grabs.

With only days until their next update, buy shares now to lock in the 70% bonus offer.


Tour de headlines

Hollywood sign in front of snow covered mountains.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

 Hollywood enters a deep freeze. For the first time since Ronald Reagan was president…of the Screen Actors Guild (1960), both Hollywood writers and actors will be on strike after the actors union began its walkout yesterday. The twin strikes, which reflect frustrations over pay and AI guardrails, will halt all production of movies and TV shows and cause the pipeline of new content for studios to evaporate. Since this is Hollywood actors we’re talking about, this strike will be more high-profile than most: Yesterday, Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt left the movie’s premiere in London when the strike started.

 Heat dome could topple temperature records. About one-third of the US population (over 112 million people) were under a heat alert yesterday as a heat dome bakes the South from coast to coast—and it’s not projected to let up over the weekend. Expect heat records to be broken in cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas, where temperatures could exceed 120°F. In Death Valley, California, the temperature could blow past 130°F, which would be the highest temperature ever recorded in the world. Experts warn this thermometer-busting heat can be deadly—a new article in Nature estimated that last summer’s heat waves in Europe killed more than 61,000 people.

 The case of cocaine in the White House goes cold. If you left your bag of cocaine in the White House a couple weeks ago, you can breathe a sigh of relief because investigators haven’t turned up any DNA or fingerprints in their crime lab analysis, per the AP. The white powder was found in a bag during a routine search of a West Wing lobby on July 2, but the area is heavily trafficked by visitors and the FBI was doubtful that it would find the perp. It’s not pursuing any more leads.


The FTC has a new target: OpenAI

ChatGPT logo with magnifying glass

Francis Scialabba

This week, OpenAI became a real tech company: It’s being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission.

According to the Washington Post, regulators are probing whether OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, harms consumers, particularly by spreading misinformation that damages people’s reputations.

Why now? AI regulation is top of mind in Washington, DC, as AI experts and lawmakers raise concerns that the technology’s rapid growth is outpacing the government’s ability to keep it on a leash.

And reining in tech is the No. 1 goal of FTC Chair Lina Khan, who has been the architect of a (so far unsuccessful) crackdown on tech companies for alleged antitrust violations and consumer abuses:

  • The FTC suffered a major setback this week when a federal judge overruled its attempt to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
  • Earlier this year, the FTC tried and failed to stop Meta’s acquisition of a VR gaming company.

Big picture: Khan appeared before lawmakers yesterday in a hearing that could’ve been directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Republicans criticized her string of antitrust losses as leader of the agency, while Democrats celebrated her for championing small businesses and consumers.—CC

Can cricket make it in America?

Guy with a cricket bat at Fenway Park

A man dressed up as an American revolutionary holds a cricket bat on the field before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A new US cricket league backed by tech money hopes Americans will find the sport wicket awesome. The first game of Major League Cricket’s inaugural season was held yesterday between the Texas Super Kings and the LA Knight Riders in a refurbished minor league baseball stadium just outside of Dallas.

Traditional cricket matches, which are wildly popular in countries like India, England, and Australia, can sometimes last days, and the sport has a shockingly long “glossary of terms” on Wikipedia. But the T20 version, which six US teams will play for the next two weeks, is much shorter (each match lasts about three hours) and has simplified rules for our tiny little TikTok brains.

Haven’t we tried to make America care about cricket before? Yes, many times since the early 2000s. But with a growing Indian American population in the US and the surging popularity of international sports like Formula One racing and soccer (welcome, Messi), it could finally be cricket’s time to shine.

And if it fails, it won’t be for lack of funding: Some of the biggest business execs in the US, including Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and other investors have pledged at least $120 million to the league to make sure cricket finally sticks.—MM


Key performance indicators

Microsoft's new default font for Office


Stat: For the first time since 2007, Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook have a new default font. Yesterday, Microsoft sent Calibri down to the minors and called up Aptos, a new sans-serif font that’s supposed to evoke mid-20th-century Swiss vibes. Before it switched to Calibri in 2007, Office used Times New Roman, and before that, presumably, Webdings.

Quote: “I’m serious about prisoner exchange.”

President Biden gave his biggest update yet on the Russian detention of WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich, stressing that the US is trying to nail down a prisoner swap with Russia similar to the one that freed Brittney Griner late last year. Gershkovich has been in Russian captivity for more than 100 days on what the US calls bogus espionage charges. Russian officials have said they might be open to a prisoner swap, but national security advisor Jake Sullivan acknowledged talks have not progressed much.

Read: Two pieces taking a big-picture view of all the extreme weather the world has experienced this summer. (Washington Post and New York Times)


Quiz: Impossible

New Friday quiz image

The feeling of getting a 5/5 on the Brew’s Weekly News Quiz has been compared to leaving your cocaine at the White House and not getting caught.

It’s that satisfying. Ace the quiz.


What else is brewing

  • The World Health Organization made its long-expected decision to label aspartame as a possible carcinogen, but it also said the sweetener is safe for consumption under the daily limit (the equivalent of nine-to-14 Diet Cokes a day)
  • Alex Mashinsky, the former CEO of bankrupt crypto lending firm Celsius Network, was arrested and charged with fraud.
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger said he’s considering selling some of the company’s traditional TV assets, which include ABC and FX, because he thinks traditional TV is dying.
  • Job opening at the Fed: St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard is stepping down to become the dean of Purdue’s business school.
  • Tampa…so hot right now.


Friday to-do list

 Trouble falling asleep? Let someone read you Instagram’s and TikTok’s terms of service—you’ll be out in no time.

 Friday convo starter: Which Pixar movie is most likely to make you cry?

 Strangely emotional video: Watch people jump off a 10-meter platform for the first time.

 An instant noodle pic, where the comments are instant classics.

 Top tech news: Learn how to leverage the latest technology to optimize your workflow. Subscribe to Tech Brew for free.


 Tech review: Choosing the right tech for finance reporting, auditing, and ESG programs is crucial. Hear an analyst’s independent findings on Workiva’s ROI in this webinar.*



The puzzle section

Jigsaw: Hit the Jersey Shore and snag a saltwater taffy for today’s Jigsaw puzzle. Play it here.

Friday puzzle

Just a heads up, this one’s a bit gory. But it’s a nice puzzle nonetheless. Here goes…

One hundred people are standing in a circle in order from 1 to 100.

No. 1 has a sword. He smites the next person (No. 2) and passes the sword to the next (No. 3).

All people do the same until only one remains.

Which number is the last remaining person?

Exploring new frontiers of tech

Graphic detailing Tech Brew Live event

 Unleash the smart revolution: Join Tech Brew on July 25 to learn how to take a product idea to launch. Sign up now.

 Hear from the CFOs of Overstock and Solo Brands about the tools they’re using to manage supply chain disruptions. Watch now.


73. Here’s a solution.

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