January 4, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! Shopify employees have secured the holy grail of post-holiday work calendars after execs cut recurring meetings with 3 or more participants and urged workers to be "really critical" about what gets on their schedules. Today we’re exploring:

  • Resolute. The goals Americans are taking into 2023.
  • Still searching. Bing’s still big in the game.
  • Out of this world. SpaceX’s $137bn valuation.
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Commitment issues

Well, January has rolled around again and many of us are using the start of the new year to get underway with all of the improvements and targets we thought about, but ultimately spent a lot of time avoiding, last year.

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, for example, is reportedly giving up political predictions, whilst Ryan Seacrest wants to get comfortable with experiencing eight minutes of “stillness” and “nothing”.

Data from YouGov suggests most people opt for something a little simpler, with 37% of Americans diving into 2023 with some kind of resolution. Resolvers use the fresh start to spearhead improvement across all areas of their lives from finances to relationships — but one broad category, personal health, is the most popular goal.

Been there, done that

Exercising more, for example, was adopted by 20% of American adults aged 18-29, with a similar proportion of 65+ year-olds aiming to do the same. Losing weight and eating healthier were also common objectives across generations.

But physical health goals aside, the data shows a wide divergence between young and old resolvers; 25% of under 30s set "being happy" as a goal in the new year, compared to just 10% of those over 65. Indeed, younger respondents were generally more likely to look for self improvement in the new year, while older generations — perhaps wise to the fact that habits are hard to build — were more sanguine about their current lifestyle.

ChatBingo

In one of our last newsletters of 2022, we charted the remarkable rise of ChatGPT, a chatbot from OpenAI that hit 1 million users in just 5 days. Now, per a report from The Information, Microsoft is looking to upgrade its search engine offering by incorporating ChatGPT’s capabilities into Bing.

Sometimes labeled "a joke" in the tech world — with reports that the most-searched term on Bing is “Google” — Microsoft's search engine has long been in a distant second place in search. But, if it is a joke, it’s Microsoft that gets the last laugh, as Bing still hauls in billions of dollars every year. In fact, Bing’s advertising revenue is not far from the ~$9bn that Twitter &Snapchat make combined.

Having already invested more than $1bn into OpenAI, Microsoft has arrangements for commercial uses of products like ChatGPT that — in theory — could help turn Bing into a much more legitimate competitor with Google.

Still searching

ChatGPT, or another NLP tool, would analyze the language used in web pages and search queries to understand the context and intent behind them. This would allow Bing to have a better understanding of what users are looking for when they perform a search. Using this understanding of user intent, Bing could then provide more accurate and relevant search results, as it would have a better idea of what users are trying to find.

That ability to better understand intent has already made Google concerned — with Sundar Pichaideclaring a “code red” moment for the company over the proliferation of chatbots like ChatGPT.

P.S. We didn’t write the paragraph below "Still searching". Instead, we asked ChatGPT “Could ChatGPT help Bing to improve its search results?”. That paragraph was, word for word, just part of its response.

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Lift off

SpaceX, Musk’s rocket company that was somehow one of his more low-key ventures in the last year, is raising $750m in new funding, valuing the company at $137bn. That leaves SpaceX commencing 2023 with a higher valuation than American aerospace company Lockheed Martin ($124bn).

Founded in 2002, SpaceX had humble beginnings. After initially looking to reuse old Russian rockets, Musk and co. realized they might be able to make the rockets cheaper themselves. Since then the company has become a leader in (the) space, with NASA even inquiring recently about returning astronauts from the International Space Station using SpaceX rockets.

SpaceX can be credited with much of the recent reinvigoration of the space sector. Following the breakthrough decades of the 60s and 70s, the era of the Space Shuttle (1981-2011) actually saw little progress on cost-efficient launches, with take-off costs remaining stubbornly high. SpaceX has helped catalyze progress, with the company’s Falcon 9 able to launch a kilogram into low Earth orbit for just $1,400, a 10-20x decrease in cost in roughly as many years, thanks in part to reusable rockets.

Skyfi

Arguably the reason why the company is worth $100bn+ is Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet company that could provide global internet access from outer space. With its first launches in 2019, Starlink now has 3,300 mass-produced small satellites in orbit, which have emerged as a useful tool for Ukraine in their war against Russia. Some of the rosiest projections predict that Starlink may bring in up to $30bn in revenue by 2025, far exceeding that of the launch business expectation of $5bn in the same year.

More Data

Tokyo is proving too popular, so much so that Japan is paying families 1 million yen per child ($7,650) to resettle away from the city.

• People plan for the future on Pinterest, making the company's 2023 predictions worth checking out.

• Romance novels boomed, as demand surged 51% last year to 32.3 million copies sold in the US.

Hi-Viz

• Recency un-bias? IMDB ratings for US feature films 1970-2022.

• The best attempt we have seen at putting 2022 into one chart.

Off the charts: Which state’s minimum wage, which was the highest-paying when we were charting back in September, has risen to $15.74-an-hour in the recent spate of raises? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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