🍪 Hollywood’s on strike

Happy Thursday, friends. This is Bite Sized Beta. We’re your ice bath to this damn heat wave.

Nuff said.

Let’s get to the good stuff.

In the oven this week:

  • 🪧 Actors on strike and 2 buffoons

  • 🗳️ Poll of the week: strike predictions

  • 🍪 Cookie crumbs: 6 bite-sized headlines

  • 🍫 Chocolate chips: 3 of our favorite finds

  • 😂 Snickerdoodles: memes for the weekend

FRESHLY BAKED

ACTORS ON STRIKE AND TWO BUFFOONS

Let me tell you a tale of 2 buffoons.

But before we get to these clowns, we gotta run it back for context.

This week, Hollywood actors joined the ongoing writers’ strike.

I know what you’re thinking.

What’s this got to do with tech?

Well, these guys got a lotta gripes, but their main ones are with streaming services and AI.

Let me explain.

Jerry Seinfeld is worth hundreds of millions of dollars because he gets a share of syndication sales: AKA a royalty every time Seinfeld runs.

This is great for him because it pays the bills even if he’s in between jobs and not actively filming.

Now, we have all these streaming services, which pay actors and writers a set amount of money after the show goes live.

Doesn’t matter if you’re a hit or not.

Your movie’s breaking streaming records? Too bad, ya don’t get paid any more than what you’ve been promised.

Now actors and writers are demanding an ongoing share of that streaming revenue, pointing to a widening income disparity between streaming CEOs and workers.

In comes buffoon number 1: Bob Iger, CEO of Disney (owns Disney+)

He says the protesters are being unrealistic, and calls the strike a “shame” and a disruption to his business.

Uh oh.

Note to self: when your workers are on strike, maybe don't gaslight them.

His comments got people even more worked up and now he’s got writers living below the poverty line skewering him for the interview.

Not a great look for a dude who got paid $27 mil last year…

Meanwhile, the second thing writers are asking for is protection against AI use. They think producers will replace them with AI to write scripts or fill in the blanks on unfinished screenplays, and want stronger rules around how AI is used.

At this point, buffoon number 2 rounds the block: Fable Studios.

Amidst the chaos, a company called Fable Studios decided now was precisely the right time to showcase an AI that can “write, animate, direct, voice, edit” a whole TV show — and demonstrate it with a whole fake South Park episode:

AKA writers’ worst fears happening right before their eyes.

If that wasn’t enough, they followed up the flub with a quote about how this actually helps writers:

“We think the timing is correct — we are right in the middle of the biggest strike in 60 years, by releasing the research… we hope for the Guilds in Hollywood to negotiate strong, strong, strong protections that producers cannot use AI tools without the express permission of artists.

The strike is the moment of maximum leverage to set rules for the coming decades and keep producers from using this tech.”

- Fable Studios

Yeah not exactly convincing…

Without an agreement, US scripted TV and movie production will have to shut down.

Ironically, the companies that are most likely to weather the storm are streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, because they’ve got their whole arsenal of content to live off of…

We’ll be keeping an eye on this one 👀

POLL OF THE WEEK

PREDICTIONS: WILL PROTESTERS GET THEIR WAY?

What’s the word on the street - do we think actors and writers will get what they’re asking for?

Sound off 👇🏽

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COOKIE CRUMBS

BITE SIZED HEADLINES

After all the kerfuffle, it turns out engagement on Threads is declining: daily active users dropped 20% this week while time spent on the platform fell 50% from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. Not pictured: Elon, loving life.

Speaking of Elon, he’s starting an AI company called xAI. The website says it’s goal is to “understand the true nature of the universe.” Whatever that means..

Satya’s getting friendly with everyone: he and Zuck posted a cute IG pic after they announced Meta and Microsoft's partnership to release an open source LLM called Llama 2. This allows developers using Azure to build with it, and gives Meta free R&D on their model.

Our now weekly update on the whole Reddit fiasco: Reddit’s CEO did an interview this week and the TLDR is “we ain’t reversing the API pricing changes, and we don’t feel that bad for the tools that have had to shut down, ‘cause they’ve already made millions.”

CHOCOLATE CHIPS

OUR FAVORITE FINDS

SNICKERDOODLES

THURSDAY MEMES

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That's all we got for ya this week, folks. See ya next Thursday!

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