This week in Business Twitter: a beloved VC firm shuttered its doors for good, a streaming service was bought by a payments company, and an ETF tracking social media buzz was launched — oh, and a stoner launched a weed company.
Here’s everything you may have missed from this week, including Jay-Z’s comments on the TIDAL acquisition, Dave Portnoy’s Buzz ETF, and Maye Musk sharing her son’s computer aptitude test.
1. Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey are in business
I said from the beginning that TIDAL was about more than just streaming music, and six years later, it has remained a platform that supports artists at every point in their careers. Artists deserve better tools to assist them in their creative journey.— Mr. Carter (@sc) March 4, 2021
Square announced on Thursday that it was buying music streaming service TIDAL, which is co-owned by Jay-Z. The company is paying $297 million in cash and stock to bring TIDAL under its umbrella, a move Square and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey is enthusiastic about — both partners tweeted about teaming up.
Square is acquiring a majority ownership stake in TIDAL through a new joint venture, with the original artists becoming the second largest group of shareholders, and JAY-Z joining the Square board. Why would a music streaming company and a financial services company join forces?!— jack (@jack) March 4, 2021
Jay-Z will serve on TIDAL’s board of directors and retain some ownership of the service, along with several other artists like Beyoncé, and Rihanna, but Square will have the majority stake. Jay-Z bought TIDAL back in 2015 for $56 million, which makes Square’s payment nearly six times higher.
It’s been rumored for months that Dorsey and Jay-Z were discussing the deal. The two were spotted together in the Hamptons in August, and again in Hawaii in December.
2. Portnoy launches his own ETF
Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports turned Twitter day trading guru, has signed on to launch a new ETF that tracks the most-talked about stocks on social media.
The Buzz Index, as it’s known, was created by asset manager VanEck last month using an algorithm that crawls the internet for keywords on sites like Twitter and StockTwits. An ETF, or exchange traded fund, is a collection of securities — stocks, bonds, or commodities — that trade on an exchange the same way a stock does.
Portnoy announced his involvement in the Buzz Index in a video Tuesday, complete with cartoon animations featuring Portnoy’s head on (who else?) Buzz Lightyear’s body.
“They showed me their algorithm,” Portnoy said about VanEck in the video. “I said, this is brilliant. Of course it'll work. If you don't adapt, you die. Twitter, social media, all of it is dictating stock prices. Nobody has seen that more than me over the past year. I wish I could own a million stocks but you can own them all. Well, that's the beauty of Buzz ETF.”
3. The end of Indie.vc
Oh man...— Bryce Roberts (@bryce) March 2, 2021
You pour yourself into something so completely for so long and then it doesn’t work out how you’d hoped and have to lay bare your failure while bracing for the worst.
And then this.
Thanks for filling every one of my inboxes with the best of your love and support ❤️
Indie was part of a wave of founder-friendly VC firms in that they were perceived as not relentlessly marching their investments towards land-grab markets or unicorn-scale growth as fast as possible.
Instead, Roberts focused on businesses that were on a path to profitability, and could be helped to get there with an investment that allowed them to not worry so much about their next round. They wanted their investments to have some basis in reality — a product, a corporate structure, revenue — not just drawing board ideas that could either become home runs or strikeouts.
“We’re proud of the work we’ve done as investors, brand builders, and movement makers,” Roberts wrote. “We love Indie!...That said, without the institutional support to scale the Indie Economy we envision, it’s time to take our learnings and refocus on other strategies within the portfolio to deploy our capital.”
4. Seth Rogen’s weed dreams come true
Almost ten years I go, I envisioned having my own weed company. And today I can say that my company Houseplant's weed will be available in California next week! Also, Houseplant is making lovely Housegoods like ashtrays, lighters, and YES, even ceramics. https://t.co/TNjpWFhbWB pic.twitter.com/00xR8QKNH3— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) March 1, 2021
Seth Rogen, perhaps the biggest stoner comedian since Cheech and Chong, has announced that his very own marijuana company, Houseplant, will finally launch in the US. The Canadian-American actor’s weed brand has been operational in Canada since 2019, but Rogen’s warmhearted announcement on Monday made the US launch official — though it’ll only be available in California for now.
“If you know anything about me at all, I’m gonna assume it’s that I really love weed,” Rogen said in the announcement video. “But what you probably don’t know about me is that I’ve been working on my own weed company for the last 10 years, and we are finally ready to launch in America. What we’re doing is we’re bringing you the best strains of weed that have been hand-picked — and by that I mean hand-smoked — by me.”
5. Maye Musk brags about her son
.@elonmusk I found your computer aptitude test from when you were 17. If I remember correctly, they had to retest you because they had never seen such a high score. No wonder you are such a brilliant engineer. #ProudMom pic.twitter.com/7sGxAvLF4r— Maye Musk (@mayemusk) March 3, 2021
Elon Musk’s mother, Maye, is proud of her son, and doesn’t miss an opportunity to show it. She shared a computer aptitude test Elon had taken in 1989 at the age of 17. According to her, the University of Pretoria had to test Elon twice because they hadn’t seen such a high score.
“No wonder you were such a brilliant engineer,” she wrote.