🐤 Building blox

You might think it's just another video game, but there's more to Roblox than meets the eye.

Friday | November 10th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Friday, chirpers! Well, we stand corrected...

In yesterday's newsletter, we mentioned that an issue with our content partner meant we couldn't bring you the daily crossword puzzle and promised that it would return today.

The glitch was apparently worse than we thought and the puzzle has been forced to take another unscheduled day off. But we’ll bring it back (along with the daily prize) ASAP.

In the meantime, feel free to practice by reading every word of today’s Early Chirp, since all the crossword answers can be found in the corresponding newsletter.

-Chris Agee

-$128.96 (-0.94%)
Dow Jones
-$220.33 (-0.65%)
S&P 500
-$35.43 (-0.81%)
-$0.00 (-0.01%)
$992.92 (2.78%)
Virgin Galactic
$0.30 (19.23%)
*Market data for this issue is from November 9th, 2023 at 6:33pm EST

🏦 Markets: There’s a lot of debate on Wall Street regarding whether the stock market has started a long-term rally with recent gains. And Thursday’s lackluster results might bolster the argument of the pessimists.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged that we’re not out of the woods as far as inflation goes and more interest rate hikes could be in store. All three major indexes finished off by more than half a percent, marking an end to winning streaks for the Nasdaq and S&P 500.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Shutterstock

🎶 Fast car, slow burn: Maybe you remember the hit song from the late ‘80s or perhaps you’re familiar with the revised country cover version by Luke Combs, but chances are you’ve at least heard Tracy Chapman’s track “Fast Car.” Now, about 35 years after the track was first released, Chapman received a Country Music Award for songwriting — making her the first Black artist to take home the honor. She released a statement thanking the awards panel, Combs, and multigenerational fans of the song.

🏈 Brady’s back: NFL fans have grown accustomed to seeing QB Tom Brady on the field over the course of his lengthy pro career. Now that he’s finally called it quits, however, he’s not shrinking off into retirement. Instead, he remains a fixture in the league with a minority stake in the Raiders franchise. And team owner Mark Davis has confirmed that he’ll be looking to the 7x Super Bowl champ for advice about the next head coach and other important decisions.

🛍️ Membership not required: Amazon continues its quest to dominate all forms of retail by amping up its grocery delivery sector. While Amazon Fresh deliveries and pickup has been reserved for Prime members, it’ll now be extended to all U.S. shoppers. In addition to launching at Amazon Prime locations, the service will reportedly roll out at Amazon-owned Whole Foods in the near future. Two-hour delivery should be available in more than 3,500 cities nationwide.

🤒 Influenza island: Flu season is underway and Puerto Rico has been especially hard hit this year. Officials on the island declared an epidemic this week following nearly 26,000 cases since July, including 900 that resulted in hospitalizations and 42 deaths. That represents a roughly sixfold increase over the number of cases reported last year and those under the age of 19 have been most likely to contract the infection with more than 13,600 cases within that age range.

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Roblox Continues Its Transition From Kids’ Game To Corporate Powerhouse

The game is maturing ... and so are its players.

Roblox Continues Its Transition From Kids’ Game To Corporate Powerhouse Giphy

If you or your kids love creating, playing, and engaging with other users in the Roblox universe, you already get its widespread appeal.

But there’s something that sets it apart from most other games — it’s making a ton of money from the loyal players who are willing to shell out real bucks to advance their in-game experiences.

What are bookings?

As the third-quarter earnings season continues, investors got a glimpse at the publicly traded company’s numbers … and they’re pretty impressive. Following a less-than-stellar second-quarter report, Roblox saw its stock price take a hit. But now it’s back and apparently better than ever.

And it’s all thanks to a little something called “bookings.” Basically, the term refers to the rate of virtual currency sales that the company makes when users buy things while playing.

While such in-game purchases have become a hallmark of modern gaming, Roblox seems to be doing it better than most. Here’s a brief overview of the company’s latest quarterly report.

  • Its nearly $840 million in bookings was more than $17 million higher than projections.
  • Shortly after the report dropped, Roblox’s stock price skyrocketed by more than 10%.
  • Even after its Q2 dip, its stock price is still 40% higher than at the start of the year.

But despite achieving more than 70 million daily active users worldwide, Roblox still thinks it has room for improvement.

Ditching the metaverse

Roblox has long existed in the “metaverse,” which seemed cool a few years ago but is kind of cringey for some younger folks and too hard for some older would-be fans to comprehend.

So the company is working to shed that image by improving graphics, teaming up with non-meta partners like the NHL and FIFA, and generally appealing to an age group with more money to burn.

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comic instagram.com/eyewashcomic

Teens Are Hardwired To Sleep In — But A Later School Day Remains Out Of Reach

Early morning adolescent grumpiness isn't a bug, it's a feature.

Teens Are Hardwired To Sleep In — But A Later School Day Remains Out Of Reach Giphy

Whether you remember your own high school days or you’re raising a teen of your own, you’ve probably noticed that high schoolers are generally not all that excited about getting up at the crack of dawn to get ready for homeroom.

It’s in their DNA

According to University of Minnesota researcher Kyla Wahlstrom, there’s plenty of evidence that adolescents are predisposed to staying up late at night (and sleeping late in the morning).

“It’s a shift that is biologically determined,” she said, noting that disrupting this natural cycle can result in poor academic performance, increased mental health problems, and even a higher risk of being in a car crash.

That’s why a growing number of elected officials — like Tennessee state Rep. John Ray Clemmons — are pushing for a later start to the school day. He introduced a bill meant to do just that last year after his own teen started to experience such symptoms and he started to look into the matter more closely.

“Because of the way adolescents’ bodies release melatonin, waking a teen at 7 a.m. is akin to waking one of us at 4 a.m.,” he said.

But despite the evidence, Clemmons and others are facing serious roadblocks.

Why it’s failing

Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell has advocated for a later start for local schools with bells that ring as early as 7:05 a.m., but he noted that there are “a lot of logistics” involved in such a seemingly modest change.

One big issue involves bus routes, which rely on staggered starts to ensure there’s enough transportation to go around. In the much smaller community of Collierville (9,000 students compared to nearly 10x as many in Nashville), the transportation costs of delaying school starts would be an estimated $1.4 million each year.

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Take A Gander Inside The $10K Truck American Consumers Probably Won’t Ever See

Meanwhile, the average price of a new vehicle in the U.S. is almost $50,000.

Take A Gander Inside The $10K Truck American Consumers Probably Won’t Ever See Shutterstock

Automobile prices have skyrocketed in recent years, with the average cost of a new vehicle coming in just a hair below $50,000. So the thought of buying a new set of wheels for the equivalent of $10,000 probably strikes most consumers as wishful thinking.

And alas, it probably is — at least if you live in the U.S.

But Toyota is promoting its ultra-cheap, bare-bones truck, the IMV 0, in a number of other nations around the world … including America’s neighbor to the south.

That’s so basic

So what do consumers lucky enough to purchase the IMV 0 get for $10K? The short answer: not much. Here’s a brief overview of the base model (and we do mean base).

  • It’s built on Toyota’s global Hilux truck platform
  • There’s no screens, power features, or even a radio
  • You’ll get two doors, four tires, and a flatbed

You can add amenities, but then the price will start climbing. And the point of this model is that it provides reliable transportation, reasonable utility, and a rock-bottom price tag.

Taking on Thailand

While there are several countries that will likely become pivotal markets for this truck, Thailand is at the top of the list. Toyota sold a total of 145,435 Hilux models in that country last year, accounting for 17% of the entire market.

The Thai consumer base is eager for cheap, customizable trucks — and the fact that it’s located so close to Toyota’s headquarters in Japan makes it even more attractive to the brand.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has a decades-old tariff that makes it very expensive to import most trucks and Americans aren’t all that interested in stripped-down vehicles. So if Toyota wants to make a profit, it looks like it won't be selling them in the States.

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

90 N Church St, The Strathvale House
Grand Cayman KY1, 9006, Cayman Islands

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