🐤 You better ask somebody

Search engines are changing, but it might not be for the better.

Monday | May 15th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Monday, chirpers! Need some motivation to start your week? Here’s an old adage coined by the “Car Talk” guys: “You will never have more energy or enthusiasm, hair, or brain cells than you have today."

Sonja Henie’s tutu, that’s good advice!

-Chris Agee

-$43.77 (-0.35%)
Dow Jones
-$8.89 (-0.03%)
S&P 500
-$6.54 (-0.16%)
$0.00 (0.03%)
$102.47 (0.38%)
-$5.93 (-5.33%)
*Market data for this issue is from May 14th, 2023 at 7:12pm EST

🏦 Markets: Friday wrapped up another losing week on Wall Street, but there’s always hope for a turnaround. Quarterly earnings season continues with reports expected from companies including Home Depot, Walmart, and Target, among others.

Also, tomorrow brings with it the latest data about consumer spending, and housing market updates are expected later in the week.

The week wraps up with economic reports from Japan, Europe, and Canada, and all of this information will have some impact on how U.S. investors steer the market.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown

🗳️ Talkin’ Turkey: There was a hard-fought election this week to determine Turkey’s next president and, as of this writing, neither leading candidate was willing to concede defeat. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu both maintain that they received a majority of the ballots. Both men remained below the 50% threshold as of Sunday evening, meaning that a runoff election is likely.

🏀 Grizzly situation: NBA star Ja Morant has been suspended following a social media post over the weekend that appeared to show him brandishing a firearm. The Memphis Grizzlies confirmed its decision and the league is expected to review the situation. Morant was similarly suspended just weeks ago for similar behavior. A source confirmed that the NBA is “aware of the social media post” and is “in the process of gathering more information.”

🎤 Swedish victory: This year’s Eurovision competition is over and Sweden has been crowned the winner. Last year, Ukraine was the champion, which according to tradition would mean that it should have hosted the most recent contest. The ongoing war made that impossible, though, and Britain stepped in to take on the role. A win for the gripping performance by pop singer Loreen means that the competition will be held in Sweden next year.

⛈️ Mocha’s fury: A cyclone hit part of Myanmar and Bangladesh over the weekend, destroying property and resulting in at least two deaths in a landslide and another fatality involving a falling tree. Cyclone Mocha’s winds reached speeds of up to 120 miles per hour. Thousands of locals were evacuated and many more sought shelter in a handful of locations including schools and monasteries. An ongoing investigation will reveal the extent of the damage.

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Is Google Trying To Become Ask Jeeves 2.0?

There's a reason one search engine achieved dominance, but it might not last.

Is Google Trying To Become Ask Jeeves 2.0?

For those who remember the days before Google essentially established a monopoly in the web search market, one website might spark some nostalgia: Ask Jeeves.

Users could type in a question and its algorithm would respond with an answer. It might not have been what you were looking for, but many people found it to be a fun way to conduct internet searches.

Why Google took over

The reason most of us say we’re going to “Google” something instead of saying we’re going to ask Jeeves about it is that Google managed to provide what a majority of users preferred.

Instead of coming up with an answer on its own, the search engine would deliver pages of links that allowed individuals to do their own research. At first, it seemed like a perfect arrangement.

Gaming the system

As Google grew bigger, so did the rise of search engine optimization schemes. In certain scenarios, such website optimization can be a harmless way for smaller sites to increase their ranking in search results.

But irrelevant sites were able to gain an unfair advantage, thus compromising the reliability of all the results.

Add in the promoted sites that paid for their top placement and the first page of Google was no longer the most reliable place for information.

Trying to mimic Jeeves

Now that AI is taking over and Google seems to realize that it has squandered the trust its users placed in it, there seems to be an effort underway to revert to the Ask Jeeves model.

Instead of providing a list of results, Google’s AI bot forms its own answers based on a collection of data. This might create an opening in the market for another company to provide unbiased and relevant links … you know, what Google used to do.

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Shopping Malls Are In A Pickle, But This Trendy Pastime Wants To Help

The malls of tomorrow likely won't look like what many of us remember.

Shopping Malls Are In A Pickle, But This Trendy Pastime Wants To Help Giphy

If you’re community even has a functioning shopping mall anymore, you’ve probably noticed once-bustling shops have gone out of business.

These increasingly vacated storefronts have created a huge headache for the companies that own and operate malls as they frantically look for new ways to fill the spaces and make money from leases.

Pickleball anyone?

A sport that combines elements of badminton, ping-pong, and tennis has taken the United States by storm in recent years, and it could be the saving grace for at least some of the malls in need of rescue.

Residents in some cities have complained about the noise and crowds of pickleball players in public parks, which has led to the need for dedicated spaces for people to play the game.

One novel solution involves opening up courts in malls.

In one Connecticut mall, for example, Pickleball America has leased a massive two-story location that was previously the home of a Saks Off 5th store. The 80,000-square-foot space will soon be one of the nation’s largest indoor pickleball courts.

Similar plans are underway elsewhere across the country, giving pickleball aficionados a place to play as well as amenities where they can eat, drink, and connect with other players off the court.

Reinventing retail

It’s not just pickleball. As prominent retailers scale back and close stores as a constant pace, mall owners are considering new ways to use the space. Here are a few current trends:

  • Focusing on experiences — like arcades and amusement parks — instead of stores.
  • Creating mixed-use spaces where businesses can establish offices alongside shops.
  • Transforming vacant stores into hotels or even affordable housing units.

Kids in the ‘80s spent a lot of their time cruising the malls … but the next generation might be going there for completely different reasons.

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What Took So Long? Starbucks Opens Location In Central Rome

There's a big difference between Italian and American coffee cultures.

What Took So Long? Starbucks Opens Location In Central Rome Giphy

In cities across the United States, it’s impossible to drive more than a few miles without encountering a Starbucks coffee shop.

But despite the brand’s clear Italian influence, it has a relatively small footprint in that country. And until very recently, no Starbucks at all existed within the capital city of Rome’s ancient epicenter.

The Italian connection

Although Italy’s historical and cultural significance dates back thousands of years, its ties to Starbucks are a scant five years old. It was in 2018 that the first coffee shop in the chain opened in the country and the first one in greater Rome wasn’t established until last year.

Milan and Verona have had Starbucks for a little longer, but considering this is where Starbucks founder Howard Schultz got his taste of the local coffee culture about 40 years ago, it might seem strange that it took so long.

A big cultural divide

For those without a deep understanding of Italy’s relationship with coffee, a visit to Starbucks might seem like a vaguely authentic experience. After all, many of the names appear to be derived directly from Italian drinks.

But there’s a lot that gets lost in translation — and those differences were on display as employees prepared to welcome customers to the central Rome store.

“Latte” in America means something completely different than it does in Italy, and as one training barista asked: “How am I going to explain to customers that our ‘mocha’ is a chocolate-infused beverage when ‘moka’ is a traditional Italian caffe?”

What you can expect

If you’re going to be visiting the new Roman Starbucks, don’t expect a completely authentic experience. There will be some Italian staples, like the flaky breakfast pastry known as the cornetti — but much of the menu will feature American favorites like brownies and muffins.

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

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