December 5, 2023

Hacer canales exitosos en YouTube no es tan fácil como parece

El verano pasado, Mitchell pagó 500 dólares por un curso titulado “Dominio y monetización de los canales” impartido por Matt Par, quien dijo que ganaba 30.000 dólares al mes en YouTube. Aseguró que sus estudiantes más exitosos habían ganado 20.000 dólares al mes.

El curso incluía videos sobre distintos aspectos de la automatización de YouTube, como la elección de los temas más lucrativos, la subcontratación del trabajo y el uso de palabras clave para que los videos sean más fáciles de encontrar en YouTube. Par también explicaba cómo funcionaban los algoritmos de YouTube.

No obstante, Mitchell señaló que el curso tenía lagunas: faltaba información sobre cómo hacer videos de alta calidad con buenos guiones. Él y otros estudiantes también se quejaron en un grupo privado de Facebook de que los contenidos del curso de Par estaban disponibles de forma gratuita en su página de YouTube.

“Básicamente está vendiendo sueños”, opinó Mitchell. Par no respondió a una solicitud de comentarios.

Mitchell, que pidió a The New York Times que no revelara dónde vivía, comenzó su primer canal, Bounty Lux, sobre riqueza y celebridades, el pasado otoño. Le pagó 2000 dólares a un trabajador autónomo que encontró en Fiverr por veinte videos. YouTube retiró uno de esos videos, sobre Dwayne Johnson, que incluía contenido robado de otro canal, lo que provocó una disputa con el trabajador autónomo. Bounty Lux no generaba dinero y tenía dificultades para conseguir espectadores, así que Mitchell lo abandonó.

Más tarde pagó 1500 dólares por un curso y gastó más de 3000 para aprender de un influente de Pivotal Media, Victor Catrina. Pagó otros 3000 dólares para que el equipo de Catrina hiciera los videos pero, según dice, las ideas y los guiones fueron tomados de otros canales.

Después que su trabajador autónomo desapareciera durante cinco días, Mitchell decidió dejar de invertir en el canal que no le producía rentabilidad. Catrina dijo que, si alguna vez descubría a alguno de sus equipos parafraseando guiones ajenos, lo sustituiría.

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The Boy Bosses of Silicon Valley Are on Their Way Out

Leaving as billionaires, they have emanated Silicon Valley’s relentless positivity. Pinterest “is just getting started,” Airbnb “is in the best hands it’s ever been in” and Instacart has a “enormous opportunity ahead,” the founders wrote. Both Mr. Mehta and Mr. Gebbia said they had plans for new projects.

Investors say they anticipate more of these resignations from founders who are realizing they now have to work harder for less (relatively speaking). “Now, they can let some executives step up, take over and grow it with different incentives,” Mr. Cohen said.

Last week, Brad Hargreaves, the founder of Common, a start-up that operates communal living spaces, announced he would step down as chief executive, becoming chief creative officer. The company’s head of property, Karlene Holloman, a hotel industry veteran, will take over as chief executive.

The market downturn factored into Mr. Hargreaves’s decision. In flush times, he said, it’s good to have a founder at the top of the company who can sell investors, employees and customers on a grand vision. “Operations don’t really matter that much,” he said. “No one’s really watching the bottom line.”

Today’s environment requires someone with Ms. Holloman’s extensive experience and operational skills, he said. “In a tighter time, when operations matter a lot and nobody’s buying into any grand visions, you want an operator in that seat,” he said.

“A lot of founder-C.E.O.s stick around too long,” he added.

The founders who have so far stayed on amid the downturn — and there are many, including at Stripe, Coinbase and Discord — can expect greater demands and more pressure. The stock trading app Robinhood has laid off more than 1,000 employees this year as it loses active customers. Dan Dolev, an analyst at Mizuho Securities, said several investors had privately suggested Robinhood bring in a more seasoned executive to help its co-founder, Vlad Tenev. Mr. Tenev cannot be forced out, since he and his co-founder, Baiju Bhatt, together hold a controlling stake in the company.

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How Some Ukrainians Are Starting Over

When Russia attacked, she and her father, 77, tried to hold out until a powerful blast ripped off the front of her house while they were sheltering inside, forcing them to flee under continued shelling toward Ukrainian-controlled territory.

Ms. Dudyk said her husband, 59, enlisted to fight the day Russia moved in, and joined Ukrainian forces inside the Azovstal steel factory. He was among 2,500 fighters taken by Russia as prisoners of war in May, and she has not heard from him since. Last month a blast at the prison camp left more than 50 dead, but Ms. Dudyk dreams that he will one day come home.

Today, home is a cramped shelter in a temporary modular town set up for Ukrainian refugees, where she lives with her father.

“I want to make the flower shop a success,” said Ms. Dudyk, who is expanding it with guidance from another refugee who once ran a nursery. If all goes well, her spartan storefront will be transformed with new shelves and more flowers.

Most of all, she wants to sell roses: “My husband always would bring me big bouquets,” she said with a smile. “But for roses, you need a refrigerator. And I don’t have the money.”

With her savings low, Ms. Dudyk has applied for a grant under the government’s program to support small and medium-size businesses.

She takes nothing for granted. “When your country is being bombed, you realize that your life is threatened and everything can be taken away,” Ms. Dudyk said, a sunny woman whose blue eyes cloud with tears when the painful memories surface.

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Pacific Northwest Restaurants Struggle During Heat Wave

This year, the restaurant has so far closed only its outdoor dining. Cathy Whims, the chef and an owner, said no outdoor seating was allowed on Tuesday, and “almost nobody chose to sit outside” on Wednesday. She expected to close the patio on Friday and Saturday nights, too.

Ms. Whims said it is a tough call to cancel outdoor dining, as it means losing reservations for the many people who are still not comfortable eating indoors because of the recent Covid surge. During heat waves like this, Ms. Whims estimates that business drops by 30 to 40 percent, during what is normally the busiest time of year for Portland restaurants.

She added that energy costs also spike during periods of high heat, and that places with air-conditioning “don’t have the kind of power to manage this kind of heat.”

Operating a restaurant over the last few years has been one pivot after another, Ms. Whims said. “All of these decisions are just unfortunately so in the moment, in the same way that Covid decisions were and are.”

Double Mountain Brewery, about an hour’s drive east of Portland on the Columbia River in Hood River, Ore., serves pizza with its beers — but only if temperatures cooperate. The impact of this week’s heat wave has been relatively minor for customers at Double Mountain, where air-conditioning and cold beer are able to keep them cool, said Matt Swihart, the owner and brewmaster.

The kitchen is taking the brunt of the heat, he said. The pizza ovens’ exhaust hoods, which help direct smoke out of the building, also bring in hot air from the outside. After having to close during last summer’s deadly heat wave, Mr. Swihart now shuts off the pizza ovens when the kitchen reaches 100 degrees, as it did on Wednesday and Thursday. When that happens, the brewery switches to a sandwich-only menu.

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How Marvina Robinson Built Her Stuyvesant Champagne Business

I go through this all the time. Even building this new space, I was nervous. I was scared because it’s so expensive to build out a beautiful space. Sometimes when business is slow, I get a little nervous, “Oh my gosh, it’s slowing down.” Every business has a cycle.

I go through those emotions. But then I look at people celebrating with the champagne, and I get excited. We had three weddings request our champagne just these past two weeks.

People ask us to make boxes for their guests or for the bridesmaids and the groomsmen. Last year, we had a New Year’s Eve wedding where they did a toast of the Champagne and they wanted some of the larger bottles. At another wedding, each guest is receiving a bottle of Champagne in a wooden box with a custom stamp.

People think champagne is celebratory. You’re popping this bottle, you see the bubbles, the fizz, you’re doing a cheer. So, it goes hand in hand.

Though for me, it could be opened anytime. It’s a go-to drink.

We’re toasting to B. Stuyvesant fully expanding throughout the entire United States and the world. We’re just enjoying that. It took us years to get to this point. And we’re sipping out of Anivram Dining Collection glasses. In 10 years, we’re also going to be toasting to the N.B.A. choosing B. Stuyvesant for celebrating the championship game win. That’s what we’re going to be toasting to.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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F.T.C. Chair Lina Khan Upends Antitrust Standards by Suing Meta

“The F.T.C. has no answer to the most basic question — how could Meta’s acquisition of a single fitness app in a dynamic space with many existing and future players possibly harm competition?” Nikhil Shanbhag, Meta’s vice president and associate general counsel, wrote in a blog post.

The company added that it hadn’t decided on whether to challenge the lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The F.T.C. accused Meta of building a virtual reality “empire,” beginning in 2014 with its purchase of Oculus, the maker of the Quest virtual-reality headset. Since then, Meta has acquired around 10 virtual-reality app makers, such as the maker of a Viking combat game, Asgard’s Wrath, and several first-person shooter and sports games.

By buying Within and its Supernatural virtual-reality fitness app, the F.T.C. said, Meta wouldn’t create its own app to compete and would scare potential rivals from trying to create alternative apps. That would hobble competition and consumers, the agency said.

“This acquisition poses a reasonable probability of eliminating both present and future competition,” according to the lawsuit. “And Meta would be one step closer to its ultimate goal of owning the entire ‘Metaverse.’”

Rebecca Haw Allensworth, a professor of antitrust law at Vanderbilt University, said the F.T.C.’s arguments would face tough scrutiny because Meta and Within did not compete with each other and because the virtual-reality market was fledgling.

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Welcome to Chicago, Hot Dog Town, U.S.A.

It seems that by the teen years, though, the ketchup impulse wears off. Al’s Drive-In, run by Heidi Ratanavanich’s family, is right across the street from Proviso East High School. The restaurant’s general manager, Art Boonma, said only about 0.5 percent of his customers ask for ketchup on their hot dogs.

But if you went to Al’s today and wanted ketchup, Mr. Boonma, 72, would probably give it to you. The more he sees his customers happy, he said, the happier he is.

Ratanavanich’s mother, Sue, 77, who owns Al’s, talks about the restaurant as an integral part of the community. She likes to brag that none of her employees ever really leave her; if they exit the job, they always come back to visit, often bringing their own children.

For Heidi Ratanavanich, that affinity is even stronger. “I grew up at Al’s,” they said. “As a kid, eating a hot dog was like eating food from home.”

The Chicago staple had become a vocation, and an object of affection for the family. So much so that Ratanavanich’s mother was even OK with the tattoo — at least it was a hot dog.

Recipe: Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

I would happily drink beer with a Chicago-style dog. Pilsener, Kölsch or gose would be my choices, but your own favorite style will also make a great combination. Few remember, but when the first Shake Shack kiosk opened in Madison Square Park, it was a hot-dog stand that offered a great Chicago-style dog. You could even get a little split of Champagne with it, which was a fine pairing with the brisk, tart-sweet components and the frank. It is not an outlandish notion. Though it’s no longer open, a London restaurant, Bubbledogs, specialized in American hot dogs with Champagne from small producers. Other sparkling wines like cava, crémant and sparkling riesling would be delicious, too. So would a still German riesling, whether dry or moderately sweet. ERIC ASIMOV

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The Business Lunch May Be Going Out of Business

Ms. Cockrel, 37, who is the vice president of communications at StockX, said she treats restaurant dining rooms as daytime work spaces. “People just kind of walk up and chat,” she said. “If I can have that with good food being a part of it, why not?”

The pandemic intensified challenges that had long bedeviled big-city restaurants, many owners say.

Pinched by rising costs and a generational shift in dining habits evidenced by the number of fast-casual chains in downtown San Francisco, Ms. Oakes said she nearly closed Boulevard in 2019. A partner in an investment firm with offices in the same building persuaded her to stay open, and helped with lease negotiations.

“We once had a very busy lunch, 250 people. Even before Covid, we had dropped into the 150s and 160s,” she said. “I was ready to turn in the keys.”

Today, lunch reservations at higher-priced restaurants in San Francisco are actually up 15 percent compared with 2019, according to OpenTable. But in that time, Mitch Rosenthal has closed three of the restaurants he owned there with his brother, Steven. All were near the offices of tech companies like Facebook and Salesforce.

Their remaining restaurant, Town Hall, is in the same neighborhood. (Bjorn Kock is a partner in the restaurant.) It’s busy for dinner but may never reopen for lunch, Mr. Rosenthal said. Lower-priced lunch menus make it nearly impossible to turn a profit in San Francisco, he said.

“I’m paying cooks $25 an hour,” he said. “Do I think they deserve it? Yes I do. Does it mean the restaurant can be profitable? That’s a different story.”

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Yes, Crypto Is Crashing Again. Blockchain Will Survive.

As Terra Luna’s death spiral accelerated, its supporters, known as “Lunatics,” lurched between terror and hope as Mr. Kwon shoveled more than $1 billion in Bitcoin into the system in an attempt to restore stability. “Deploying more capital — steady lads,” he tweeted.

But ultimately, there wasn’t enough cash coming in to make up for outflow, just as in an ordinary bank run, and this particular experiment in replacing trust with mathematics was at an end. Among the many thousands of failed crypto experiments, Terra Luna stands out as one of the largest, taking with it roughly $60 billion in total market value.

The vociferous opponents of crypto have been quick to celebrate the death of the blockchain, insisting that all crypto is fraudulent. These critics are a mirror image of the equally unrealistic cheerleaders at the opposite end of the spectrum: the pro-crypto libertarians clamoring for a financial world with no regulations whatsoever.

Responsible players in the crypto market have been calling for and helping to develop sensible regulatory frameworks for many years. A bedrock of crypto regulations already exists; in the United States, federal agencies such as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission started weighing in on separate aspects of trade and taxation in 2013. In October, the Department of Justice announced the formation of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team. The list of crypto scammers who have gone to jail already far surpasses the number of bankers jailed in the United States for their role in the 2008 financial crisis.

In the early days of the internet, the circus atmosphere made it easy to ignore the dangers that were brewing — surveillance capitalism and illegal government snooping among them — and that would have grave global consequences. In time, regulations were put in place: privacy frameworks, like some provisions of the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in the United States and the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, and speech protections like Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

At the same time, the marvels of the internet multiplied, magic that by now seems unremarkable: a map of the world, street by street, in your pocket; instant translations from almost any language; a look-up service for every branch of knowledge; global, near-instantaneous news. Today’s internet is deeply woven into the world’s economies, media, politics, industry and social life, in good ways and bad.

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New York’s Weed Rush Is Here. They Came to Cash In.

One evening, about a month later, I met C. in Midtown at a residential four-floor walk-up built in 1910. There was a free-standing A.T.M. out front and a banner for a members-only cannabis club. The building itself is home to two cannabis businesses — the club on the ground floor, run by a legacy operator who has been selling cannabis illegally for 15 years, and a “grow house” upstairs. The grow house is where C. gets their cannabis. “My main goal is to have nothing but the New York product,” he said; he wants to support the local industry, from seed to smoke, with cultivators, pickers and rollers from the city, in part because he doesn’t think that users elsewhere around the country appreciate the history of black-market grows in New York. The Sour Diesel strain, for example, is thought to have originated in New York. When it reached Miami, when C. was a teenager, it was the only kind of cannabis he smoked. “I have huge respect for New York growers and huge respect for the game out here. And it’s really an honor to be a part of all this.” Though he wasn’t sure how many places like the Midtown grow house existed in the city, he guessed the number could be in the hundreds. “Just in Chinatown alone, that’s where most of the country gets the old-school Bubba,” he said. “The black market and the underground stretches beyond anybody’s imagination.”

This particular grow house occupied the living rooms of two one-bedroom apartments. Danny (who goes by Danny Lyfe) set up the operation two years ago. He showed me the 26 plants in the back apartment, which he expected to produce 12 pounds of cannabis every 10 weeks. Each plant, about three feet tall, had its own pot, with a masking-tape label that identified its strain — Cherry Lime Runt or Joker’s Candy, for instance — and phenotype. Danny was reluctant to show me the plants in the front apartment because they weren’t doing that well: The employee who had been tending them mistakenly pruned them back too far. While C. and Danny shared a pre-roll, they were deep in conversation about the benefits of each strain and the preferred temperature (75 to 80 degrees), relative humidity (high 50s, low 60s, in the flowering stage) and light for the plants, the last two variables of which Danny controls remotely on his phone.

The grow house is only one part of Danny’s business. He owns a farm in Oregon, where he is licensed to grow medicinal cannabis, and a streetwear shop in Staten Island, where he lives. When I asked Danny and C. how they met, they both laughed. They couldn’t remember at first but then traced their connection back to a cannabis connoisseur who posted about Danny’s events on Instagram.

Danny told me his latest goal is to address a countrywide void: quality pre-rolls. “Pre-rolls are tainted in the nationwide market because most people use their garbage material — their endings, their trim,” he said. He wanted to produce 1,400 pre-rolls a day to sell wholesale for $5 each. He had just spent an entire shift that day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., working with his employees to, as he put it, “roll cannolis.” The plants, all female, would eventually be trimmed and harvested in July.

As Danny locked up the apartment, he whispered to the plants, “See you later, love you girls.” Because he is deeply invested in weed — he is 33 but has spent 18 years in the industry so far — he is eager for everything to be officially legal. “I can’t wait for my outpost to open, that’s going to be lit,” he said. Danny doesn’t mind talking about his business publicly. He is already involved in several groups applying for licenses to grow and sell cannabis, and he is confident about his prospects. One project will be headquartered in a former bank in White Plains, a nearby suburb. At one point he found himself with the White Plains mayor. “I’m Puerto Rican from New York City sitting at the mayor’s office, and I’m pushing weed,” Danny told me, describing their meeting. The mayor asked Danny what his role was in the company. Danny said he told him about his industry expertise and added, “I’m the one who checks off every box as far as social equity.”

S. and C. hope to get their own license next year, but the process has been slow (and will probably be expensive, they worry). “We’re trying to build a membership and really just go about it the best way we can without stepping on anybody’s toes,” C. says. It’s a delicate balance, he notes, trying to respect the work of the activists who helped pass New York’s cannabis legislation while also taking advantage of the market it is creating. The issue of equity matters to them. “Cannabis has a deep, dark history,” he says, referring to the racial disparities in arrests for possession of cannabis in urban areas. He has seen it firsthand. “I come from Miami, so I get it. I want to make sure we do this a certain way.”

After Danny left, C. told me that he and S. were just getting by with what they were making from their New York venture. All the giveaways, the events, the rent, the employees, taxes — it adds up. Gross sales were high, but so were the costs of expanding their business. While their 4/20 party was a celebratory occasion, they had also just paid an extraordinary amount to the government. Their business may be operating in a legal gray area, but they are still subject to state and federal taxes, and they can’t claim any write-offs.

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