July 10, 2023

Today's Topics

Hi! Some good news to kickstart your week — deforestation in the Amazon is reportedly down 34% in the first 6 months of the year. Today we’re exploring:

  • Threads: Meta's latest launch was a smash hit.
  • The economics of coffee: A visual breakdown.
  • Pedestrian fatalities: America's roads are getting more dangerous for pedestrians.

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Twitter vs. Threads

Two hours after the official launch of Threads, Meta's text-based rival app to Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg posted that downloads had reached 2 million. After 4 hours, the number was 5 million. From there, momentum only slightly slowed and as of this morning, just over 100 hours since the app's launch, Threads crossed the remarkable threshold of 100 million downloads, per data from Quiver Quantitative.

To put that in context, it took Instagram 2 and a half years to reach the same milestone, while TikTok accomplished the feat in 9 months. Even ChatGPT, which previously held the record for the fastest downloaded app, took 2 months to reach 100 million users. Driving Threads' rapid growth is its seamless integration with Instagram, making it effortless for the platform's 2 billion users to link their accounts to a new Threads one.

Threading the needle

Twitter’s owner Elon Musk, is not taking Threads lightly. On the day of launch, he threatened legal action, alleging that Meta had poached Twitter employees to develop the app and used confidential information. Meta’s response was "that's just not a thing." Nonetheless, Meta does have a track record of adopting elements from competitors, whether it be Stories resembling Snapchat, Reels imitating TikTok, or even Facebook's origins emulating features from MySpace and Friendster. While Threads bears a resemblance to Twitter in terms of layout, it also has distinctive elements such as being more mobile-focused and no hashtags whatsoever.

Of course, it’s impossible to know how much traction Threads would have got without integration with Instagram. But, as the battle between Meta and Twitter unfolds, which may still get physical, Threads has made a significant statement in getting to 100 million users. The next question is: will they stay?

Caffeine dreams

Giuseppe Lavazza, chairman of one of the world's leading coffee roasters, expects customers to be able to get their caffeine fix cheaper in the coming months, as consumers begin to benefit from the falling price of wholesale beans. With more than 60% of Americans drinking coffee every single day, you might expect the price of coffee to be headline news.

But, even if coffee wholesale prices do tumble, your morning fix — particularly if bought from a cafe — is unlikely to change much.

A study in the UK from 2019, reveals the breakdown of the costs of a typical cup of coffee, finding that just ~4% of a your morning cup is actually for the coffee itself — which worked out to about £0.10 ($0.13). The figures would undoubtedly be higher today — a £2.50 ($3.20) cup of coffee in the UK is a rare sight these days — but the proportions would be similar. Indeed, if you have a particularly fancy drink order, with lots of sweeteners or alternative milks, then the actual beans will be an even smaller share of the costs.

That means, even if the wholesale cost of coffee were to plunge by 40-50%, the cost savings likely to be passed on to consumers would be unlikely to be more than a few cents, as the price of your daily caffeine fix is much more dependent on shop rent and staff wages.

A bitter brew

Although a few years out of date, and from just one study in the UK, the breakdown gives a good sense of just how complicated the coffee supply chain is. The coffee roaster usually accounts for most of the cost of the actual coffee, while exporters, transporters and processors take their cuts, leaving the actual grower with around just 10% of the coffee revenue. In this study, that worked to be just one penny from a typical £2.50 ($3.20) cup of coffee.

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At least 7,500 pedestrians died last year in America, the highest figure recorded for more than 40 years, according to the latest data from the GHSA.

Although only a preliminary result — with data so far collated from 49 states — the numbers confirm that the trend of rising pedestrian fatalities has yet to stop. Indeed, fatalities are up more than 80% compared with the safest year on record, 2009, when ~4,100 pedestrians lost their lives.

Why are pedestrians at risk?

Federal reports identify a few factors, including more dangerous driving during the pandemic as well as a lack of awareness and enforcement of laws that are intended to keep pedestrians safe. One author, Angie Schmitt, who explores the phenomenon in a recent book, also blames the rise in larger, heavier vehicles, as well as a generally aging population — who can be more vulnerable to accidents — for the increase in pedestrian fatalities.

Town planners have also been in the firing line. New lanes of traffic are often added to ease congestion, but that ends up limiting space for pedestrians. One traffic engineer blames the rise of “stroads”. The word refers to those that are some combination of “streets” — lower speed avenues where people can shop, dine and walk — and “roads” — which are designed to get cars from A to B quickly and efficiently. Places where the two are combined, without proper infrastructure like crosswalks and lighting, are reportedly responsible for a majority of the fatalities.

More Data

• The USA loves its guacamole so much that it now buys 86% of the avocados that Mexico exports, up from only 30% in 2003.

Las Vegas now has the world's largest spherical structure at 366 ft tall and 516 ft wide — and yes of course it is an entertainment venue.

CFA Level II, a finance exam with a notoriously low pass rate, has had its success rate jump above historic average to 52%.


• Dive into the many ways advertisers label you.

• Chart showing just how record-breaking global temperatures were last week.

Off the charts: Which pop star, who has just retired from touring after 50 years on the road, also tops the overall touring records? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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