The Hustle

Tech magnates buy mansions all the time. But Gearbox founder and CEO Randy Pitchford just bought the Magic Castle, a private club for magicians in Los Angeles, for an unknown sum. Apparently, Pitchford is a magician himself and the grandnephew of the Great Cardini, a master of card tricks.

In today’s email:

  • Ghost guns: Why Biden is cracking down on them.
  • Chart: America’s bestselling car since 1981 goes electric.
  • Nonprofits: A new trend in venture capital.
  • Around the web: Google Docs tips, reading tools, an opportunity for women artists, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s quick podcast to hear about Etsy’s soul-searching, Ford’s big month, ghost guns, and awkward situations with autonomous cars.

The big idea
printed guns

The Fed’s crackdown on printed guns

On Monday, President Biden announced regulations against “ghost guns” in an effort to curb gun violence.

But wait…

What’s a ghost gun?

Not, as it may seem, a haunted gun.

They’re DIY guns, typically bought online via kits that buyers assemble at home like Ikea furniture. Some are 3D-printed, like this.

It’s a much smaller industry than the $19.5B US gun and ammo manufacturing biz, but there’s at least one key difference.

Because they’re sold unfinished, ghost gun kits aren’t considered firearms and haven’t required a serial number, per AP News.

That’s a problem…

… according to law enforcement and federal officials:

  • Ghost guns don’t require background or age checks, meaning anyone with the means (~$350+) can get one.
  • No serial numbers means they’re virtually untraceable. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) could only trace ~1% of the 45k ghost gun reports it received between 2016 and 2021, per CNN.
  • Though most guns recovered by law enforcement during criminal investigations are regular guns, officials say ghost guns are on the rise. The ATF says ~20k ghost guns were recovered in 2021, up tenfold from 2016.

The new regulations…

… classify the individual parts as firearms, meaning ghost guns will be subject to the same laws as other guns.

Also, licensed dealers who buy ghost guns — like pawn shop owners — must add serial numbers before reselling.

But not so fast

You probably knew this, but gun regulations in the US are contentious.

Opposition is coming from pro-gun groups, including the Gun Owners of America, which plans to sue.

And while regulations could certainly curb some behaviors, stopping people from 3D printing whatever they want may be impossible.

BTW: The coolest 3D-printing applications might be… human organs?

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DoorDash’s new DashPass for Students is a $4.99/mo. subscription offering free delivery on certain orders, 5% credit back on select pickups, and members-only deals. #ecommerce-retail

Go fly a kite: Kitekraft is a Munich-based wind power company flying gigantic kites to generate electricity. #clean-energy

3D Athlete Tracking is tech that can improve a player’s game. Cool, in theory, but what about players’ privacy over biometric data? Protocol dives in. #emerging-tech

Sauvignon blockchain: Auction house Strauss & Co. is hosting a wine auction in NFTs. Each NFT contains 66-288 bottles of fine South African wine, but each bottle also has its own NFT. #fintech-crypto

Sony Group and Lego parent company Kirkbi invested $2B in Epic Games, bringing its value to $31.5B. All 3 are interested in the metaverse, with Epic and Lego partnering on a family-friendly digital experience. #big-tech

F-150 Lightning chart

Singdhi Sokpo

To BEV or not to BEV, that is the question

Every year since 1981, the Ford F-150 has outsold every car in America.

The F-150 lineup is responsible for $40B+ in annual revenue. As an American product, it comes only 2nd to the iPhone in sales, according to Bloomberg.

Now, with 200k reservations, the all-new battery-electric F-150 Lightning — damn, that reads like a car commercial — will begin deliveries in the coming weeks.

And it could seriously ignite America’s EV adoption

On the supply side, after CEO Jim Farley announced the truck in 2019, other legacy players followed in his footsteps. Now, companies will look to the Lightning’s launch as proof for whether an electric pickup can sell.

On the demand side, if any car is gonna get swaths of rural Americans to go green, it’s an electric F-150. The damn thing can power a house for 3 days, for goodness’ sake.

Plus, factoring in subsidies, the estimated lifetime cost for a Lightning is 17% less than its gas-powered sibling.

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Free Resource

Exposés by the experts in American society

Yes, the bestseller who wrote Moneyball and The Big Short has some words for you. You should hear them.

Against The Rules is a Pushkin Industries podcast where author and journalist Michael Lewis unwraps fairness in American life — through the lens of unseen public servants across various fields.

What’s happened to fairness, in our markets, newsrooms, basketball games, and courts of law? Who’s really calling the shots? 🔺👁‍🗨

This season, you’ll meet:

  • An oceanographer, who has low-key saved countless lives.
  • Baseball writers, who see the whole field. And have notes.
  • Doctors and Nurses: The experts providing care to the people.
  • Former gang members: The experts moving behind the scenes.
  • Stock experts, though Michael argues true expertise here is impossible.

If you start your day with some Michael Lewis, we think you’ll be sharper.

Listen on your favorite platform 🎧 →
Better Ventures
money symbol


Nonprofit VC funds, explained

Venture capitalists get a lot of sh*t — often with good reason (just check out @VCBrags).

But there’s a new trend in the world of venture capital worth celebrating: funds that are part venture capital, part nonprofit, per Axios.

These funds…

… are set up as nonprofits, and managed by philanthropic sponsors. Examples include Andreessen Horowitz’s TxO (Talent x Opportunity) Initiative, and Fifth Star Funds, which allows donors to write “Friends & Family” checks for Black tech founders.

Here’s how it works:

  • Like traditional VC, these funds invest in startups
  • Unlike traditional VC, they have donors instead of limited partners, meaning any returns on capital get reinvested back into the fund rather than returned to investors
  • Donors can recommend where they think money should be invested next

Since all returns get recycled back into subsequent investments, these funds can become self-sustaining if the investments are successful.

The model…

… could help level the playing field in funding. Per Fifth Star, Black founders get 1% of total VC funding compared to 77% for white founders.

Of course, the success of these funds depends on fund managers, who are often incentivized to maximize returns, which these vehicles won’t do.

The hope is that philanthropic missions will be all the incentive fund managers need. If the model helps make fundraising more equitable, it’ll make for a VC brag we can all appreciate.

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☀️ On this day: In 1633, the inquisition of Galileo Galilei, the astronomer who suggested that the Earth actually revolved around the sun, began. He was ultimately sentenced to house arrest for heresy.

🖊️ Useful: Smort is a tool that lets you edit, annotate, and share web articles.

👩🏿‍🤝‍👩🏼 Opportunity: Women Rise and NFT platform Voice are partnering on a residency program for women who want to turn their artwork into NFT collections. Submissions are open through May 7.

📃 How to: 3 handy features to up your Google Docs game.

🐾 Aww: And now, welcome to the kitty spa where all good boys get a massage.

Meme of the day
EV meme

Can an affordable EV pickup convert folks to EVs? (Source:

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Lightning” Wang.

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