Numlock News: August 3, 2021 • Zoombombing, Brazilian butt lift, LaGuardia,
By Walt Hickey
The Numlock book club is voting on the next round of selections, now’s a great time to join up.
The company responsible for food and beverage concessions at the three New York City area airports was ordered to launch a full audit of pricing after a person tweeted about a $27.85 Sam Adams Summer Ale at LaGuardia. According to 2020 pricing guidelines, airport businesses are limited to charging 10 percent more than “street pricing,” and unless it’s a literal beer hand brewed by Adams himself I can’t imagine there’s all that many $25 Summer Ales out there on the street. Airport concessionaires are trying to make up lost ground after a brutal year in New York. As of June, just 53 percent of the shops and restaurants in JFK — which is typically full of international flights — are open, compared to 64 percent at LaGuardia and 77 percent at Newark.
Brazilian Butt Lift
First pioneered in Brazil, the butt lift is a plastic surgery procedure in which fat from the waist is removed and re-injected into the butt. It’s an increasingly popular procedure, with the number of BBLs performed globally increasing 77.6 percent since 2015. Hotbeds in South Florida, Turkey, Mexico and Thailand serve as common destinations for questionable and cheaper versions of the surgical procedure that has come to define an entire Instagram aesthetic. Some of these operations are more fly-by-night or sketchy than others. Most advertise a BBL for $5,500, but some run as low as $3,000. Those bargain prices for a difficult and involved plastic surgery lead to a riskier procedure: the mortality rate was estimated to be 1 in 20,117 as of 2020, higher than the 1.3 in 50,000 risk for liposuction.
Live from New York
With many of the longer-running cast members on Saturday Night Live having had their contracts run out and the 50th anniversary of the show just a few years away, reports are that Lorne Michaels is attempting to persuade some of the more established people to stick around. These are the folks who by this point in their SNL path would have left and started careers in film, had the major studio-comedy-as-a-viable-film business not been wiped off the face of the earth over the past decade or so. Keeping the beloved heavy hitters around would be beneficial for viewership, as SNL has become an incredibly lucrative business in the past couple of years. In the show’s 2015-16 season, the average cost of a 30 second spot was about $89,500. Over the past two seasons that average was reportedly $180,000. SNL was a $123 million gusher for NBC in 2020, up from $114.7 million in 2019.
Faster, Higher, Stronger, Vastly More Expensive
Back in 2013, when a little city called Tokyo had big dreams of hosting the 2020 Olympics, the plan was that they would spend an eminently reasonable, downright frugal $7.3 billion to put the event on, presumably timed perfectly to coincide with the events of the film Akira. Within a few years, it turned out that estimate came in a bit low. In December of 2019, organizers indicated that costs were up to about $12.6 billion, but hey that’s ok we get it, it happens. Olympics since 1960 have ran 172 percent over budget on average. Well, it got way worse and in Summer 2020, an Oxford economist said the costs were actually more like $15.84 billion for Tokyo. Another estimate from a national audit board said it could even be $30 billion.
Zoom agreed to pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged it violated user privacy rights when it allowed hackers to Zoombomb meetings during the initial explosion in usage of videoconferencing software last year. Zoom made $1.3 billion from subscribers over the period in question, and subscribers in the proposed class action can get either 15 percent refunds on their subscriptions or $25. In January of 2020, Zoom had 81,900 customers with at least 10 employees. By April of 2021, it was up to 497,000 customers.
Reese Witherspoon sold her production company, Hello Sunshine, to a private equity backed group for a reported $900 million. Sunshine produces Big Little Lies on HBO, The Morning Show on Apple, and also operates the wildly successful Reese’s Book Club, which curates books for a legion of fans. This also places the production company in pole position when it comes time to option them into film or television. It’s a hot time to sell a production company: after MGM sold to Amazon for a remarkable $8.45 billion, every production shingle in town is looking in the mirror and seeing Walt Disney look back at them.
Snapchat has grown substantially, hitting 293 million daily active users in the second quarter of 2021, up 23 percent compared to last year. That’s higher than the 206 million that punch into Twitter daily, but still a far cry from the 1.91 billion that go on Facebook. Still, Snap’s been on a tear, with revenue growth in the second quarter hitting 116 percent, leagues above the 56 percent increase over at Facebook. They’ve also got youth on their side: 47 percent of people surveyed aged 15 to 29 said they went on Snapchat for more than 30 minutes of the previous week, higher than the 45 percent who said they went on TikTok.
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