A new ‘metaverse’ ETF wants to expose investors to the future of the internet

Fortnite 2
  • A new “metaverse” ETF is looking to court investors bullish on internet innovation.
  • The fund defines the metaverse broadly as the intersection of many virtual worlds and the physical world.
  • The fund’s biggest holdings include household names like Microsoft and Amazon as well as Nvidia and Roblox.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

A new ETF listed on Wednesday is looking to court investors bullish on internet innovation with exposure to the future of the internet.

The Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, debuting today on the New York Stock Exchange, focuses on seven categories – including virtual platforms, cloud computing, and hardware – which collectively comprise the so-called metaverse.

The fund will track the Ball Metaverse Index, developed by the venture capitalist Matthew Ball.

The fund sees the metaverse, defined broadly as the intersection of many virtual worlds with the physical one, as a “quasi-successor state of the internet,” akin to how smartphones reshaped earlier versions of the web. Growth in the metaverse will accelerate as new technologies like VR and blockchain gain mainstream adoption, according to an investor pitch deck.

The fund’s biggest equity holdings include household names like Microsoft and Amazon as well as companies well known to gamers, such as Nvidia, Roblox, and Tencent – which owns the world’s most-watched esport, League of Legends. The Chinese conglomerate also holds a 40% stake in Fortnite-maker Epic Games, which has invested heavily in the metaverse.

Ball has written extensively about the metaverse, arguing in one essay that it could “alter how we allocate and monetize modern resources.” The essay points to “gold farming,” referring to players performing in-game labor for real-world compensation, as an early example. Gold farming has already become commonplace in Venezuela, where some games’ virtual money is more stable than the official bolívar, according to The Economist.

The ETF launched at $15 and was trading up 0.73% at 10:30 a.m. ET.

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Elon Musk says Starlink will need up to $30 billion to survive. ‘If we succeed in not going bankrupt, then that’ll be great.’

Elon Musk SpaceX Starlink
Elon Musk speaking at the Satellite Conference and Exhibition in Washington, Monday, March 9, 2020.

  • Elon Musk said Starlink would likely need between $20 billion and $30 billion in investment.
  • Starlink is SpaceX’s internet satellite project, which aims to beam broadband to remote areas.
  • “If we succeed in not going bankrupt, then that’ll be great, and we can move on from there,” Musk said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk’s constellation of internet satellites, Starlink, will need up to $30 billion in funding to survive, the billionaire said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress tech conference via video link, the SpaceX CEO said the projections for Starlink’s business costs were estimated between $20 billion and $30 billion, Reuters reported.

During the same conference, Musk said the company was losing money on its Starlink terminals, which allow users to receive the broadband that the satellites already in orbit are beaming down.

According to Musk, the terminals cost $1,000 to make and the company sells them for $500 – plus a $99 monthly subscription. The company will soon release a new model of its terminal which will be cheaper to make, he said.

Read more: I tried Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite-internet project, for 3 weeks after moving to rural Vermont. It’s a game changer.

Musk also said Starlink had signed partnerships with two “major country telcos,” but did not disclose their names. Musk tweeted last week that Starlink had 69,420 active users.

“If we succeed in not going bankrupt, then that’ll be great, and we can move on from there,” Musk said, per Reuters. Musk has said in the past that avoiding bankruptcy was the biggest challenge facing any high-speed internet satellite company.

Starlink is part of Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX. Its aim is to provide high-speed broadband to remote parts of the world using a fleet of satellites. As of May 2021, there were almost 1,500 satellites in orbit, per Space News. Musk has said he wants to launch a total of 42,000 satellites.

SpaceX’s president Gwynne Shotwell said earlier this month Starlink could provide global coverage by September 2021 – though Musk said during Tuesday’s conference that this could be achieved a month earlier, in August.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon is investigating allegations of gender bias in its Prime team after Insider reporting

Whole Foods Prime Amazon bags

Amazon has opened an investigation into its Prime team in the wake of internal complaints about gender bias and a hostile workplace culture for women.

The probe, which coincided with Insider’s reporting last week, suggests Amazon is taking the allegations seriously. The company’s Employee Relations Central Investigations unit told one of the Prime employees who filed a complaint that it was taking ownership of the case, according to an email seen by Insider. The team has asked the person to provide additional information about the issue.

“We appreciate you reporting these concerns and take them seriously,” the email said. “Your concerns will be investigated as appropriate.” An Amazon spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Last week, Insider reported on what some employees said was a culture of aggressive male-dominated leadership within Amazon’s Prime unit. Current and former employees described meetings where male leaders used aggressive language toward women. They also said women received fewer promotions than men, and recent internal company data showed only four out of a total of 41 senior leaders under Jamil Ghani, the vice president of Prime, are women.

When contacted earlier this month for comment, an Amazon spokesperson said the allegations did not reflect the culture of Amazon or the Prime team.

“We have worked hard to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture in which all employees feel supported and successful within the Prime organization,” the spokesperson said, adding that the group aimed to double the number of women in leadership roles in 2021.

The allegations are the latest in a series of public accusations about Amazon’s workplace culture.

In May, five current and former female employees sued Amazon, alleging “abusive mistreatment by primarily white male managers.” In February, Charlotte Newman, a Black Amazon manager, filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment. And last year, a high-profile female engineer called on the company to fix what she said was a “harassment culture,” Insider previously reported.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company investigated the cases, found no evidence to support the allegations, and didn’t tolerate discrimination or harassment.

You can read Insider’s original story here.

Do you work at Amazon? Contact reporter Eugene Kim via encrypted messaging apps Signal/Telegram (+1-650-942-3061) or email (ekim@businessinsider.com).

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A federal judge has blocked a New York law requiring internet service providers offer $15 broadband to low-income residents

High speed internet
Fast and high speed internet connection from fiber line with LAN cable connection

  • A federal judge issued a temporary injunction against a New York law requiring affordable broadband.
  • The law, known as the Affordable Broadband Act, was passed in April and would apply to about 7 million low-income New Yorkers.
  • In issuing the injunction, the judge said the law would cause “irreparable harm” to internet service providers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction Friday on a New York State law slated to take effect next week that would force internet service providers to provide affordable high-speed internet access to low-income state residents.

The law, known as the Affordable Broadband Act, was passed by the state legislature in April and signed into law by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. It requires internet service providers that serve more than 20,000 households to offer low-income residents broadband with download speeds of at least 25 megabits-per-second for $15 a month.

Under the law, companies can charge low-income residents slightly more, but no more than $20, for faster broadband with download speeds of at least 200 megabits-per-second.

The governor’s office said the law would apply to about 7 million New Yorkers in 2.7 million households, according to a report from Courthouse News Service. The discounted rates would apply to New Yorkers who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, Medicaid, and supplemental nutrition program (SNAP) benefits.

But New York’s Eastern District Judge Dennis R. Hurley on Friday sided with a group of telecom companies that sued to block the law from taking effect.

He agreed that, if enacted, the law could cause “irreparable harm” and “unrecoverable losses” to the telecom companies, particularly smaller ones because they’d face penalties if they didn’t meet requirements set by the law or because they’d lose revenue by charging customers less, as The Verge reported.

One company, Empire Communications, argued it would have to turn down a federal grant to expand its service if the law went into effect because it “could not afford to invest in this buildout because a large percentage of its potential customers would be eligible for the discounted monthly rates,” as Courthouse News Service reported.

“While a telecommunications giant like Verizon may be able to absorb such a loss, others may not,” Hurley wrote in his decision to issue the injunction.

In his decision, Hurley also agreed with the telecom companies that the New York law interferes with the work of the Federal Communications Commission because it “regulates within the field of interstate communications.”

The office of Gov. Cuomo said it planned to push forward on the legislation.

“We always knew big telecom would pull out all the stops to protect their profits at the expense of the New Yorkers who need access to this vital utility the most,” said Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Cuomo, in a statement to Courthouse News. “We are going to continue to fight for them.”​

Read the original article on Business Insider

What is an ISP? The companies that provide you with access to the internet, explained

internet router being hooked up to desktop computer
ISPs can connect all of your devices to the internet.

  • ISP is an acronym for internet service provider.
  • In addition to receiving an internet connection from an ISP, you may also be able to access an email account and web hosting services.
  • ISPs can come in many forms, like dial-up, high-speed (also called broadband), and DSL.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’re reading this article, you can thank an internet service provider.

What is an ISP?

Internet service providers, or ISPs, are companies or organizations that provide you with access to the internet.

ISPs can also offer other options, like web hosting and email services, and they can range in form from giant telecommunication companies to small nonprofits.

When you connect to your ISP, you join its network to access the internet – whether that’s through a browser, a streaming platform, or an app on your phone. ISPs are also interconnected, and you can connect to many networks as you access different sites.

Some of the most prominent ISPs include:

  • Comcast
  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • Spectrum

ISPs can provide Wi-Fi and Ethernet

Wi-Fi is a wireless internet connection that can be accessed through a router, while Ethernet requires a physical wire (known as an Ethernet cable) that connects your modem to your computer, TV, or video game console.

You can have an ISP that works with both. To be able to do that, you simply need a router that also has an Ethernet port. ISPs that allow for both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections accomplish this through what’s called a “mixed network.”

ethernet cable connected to laptop internet
You can hook up an Ethernet cable to your devices instead of using Wi-Fi.

Using an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi can also help speed up your internet access.

‘Why isn’t my internet working?’: How to identify why you can’t connect to the internet and troubleshoot accordinglyHow to boost your internet speed at home in 8 ways, and make sure you’re not being overcharged for low speeds‘What is a good internet speed?’: The internet speeds you should aim for, based on how you use the internetHow to use a Google speed test to check how fast your internet speed is

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What is CSS? Understanding the coding language that styles a webpage beyond plain text and photos

coworkers coding on computer together
CSS is important website coding that improves the user interface and experience.

  • CSS is a programming language that lets you customize the color, font, and layout of an HTML-coded website.
  • CSS adds vibrancy to the online experience because without it, websites would look like identical bland lines of text and images.
  • There are three distinct CSS styles that you can use when designing your website.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term itself, CSS is a website coding component that any internet user has experienced.

While you may not know exactly what CSS is, it’s something to embrace – CSS immeasurably enriches the online ecosystem.

Here’s everything you should know about how CSS works, its advantages, and why it’s important.

What is CSS?

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a coding language used to add colors, layouts, and fonts to a website.

If you were a user in the early stages of the internet, your initial impression of website design may have been quite underwhelming. That’s because CSS wasn’t being used by browsers until 1996.

CSS isn’t the content of a website, but its visual presentation. Think of it this way: CSS is the style, and HTML is the substance.

1_ _What_is_CSS
CSS adds the design elements to a webpage.

HTML serves as a site’s foundation by coding all the content you’re there to consume, but without CSS, the website would be only a bare-bones jumble of words and images.

Insider homepage without CSS
Without CSS, the Insider homepage appears without much stylistic flow.

You may also be familiar with JavaScript, the sort of third pillar of website development. Java is a language which – unlike the static style elements added by CSS – allows you to code in complex, interactive content. As far as web design goes though, CSS is the most crucial web development element.

Types of CSS styles

  • Internal CSS: Also known as the “embedded” style, Internal CSS requires coding the CSS < style > tag in the < head > section of each page you’re coding – the style won’t be applied to an entire website. There are advantages though, as you’ll also be creating a self-contained, easily previewable template for sharing.
  • External CSS: This is often considered the easiest method for long-term website maintenance. All your CSS coding is done in a separate CSS file, then applied to any page you want. Site loading times might also benefit from the external style.
  • Inline CSS: This style is slightly more intensive for coders, requiring each individual HTML tag to be styled. This can also be handy for minor changes and quick previews of modifications.

Benefits of CSS

  • The coding language of CSS is straightforward, but customizable to an enormous degree.
  • Formatting via CSS makes websites easier to navigate by placing buttons in logical places that make them more likely to get clicks.
  • CSS can also eliminate having to use as many lines of code, which allows faster page loading.
  • The responsive design elements of CSS make the language suitable for presentation on any size screen, from a mobile phone to a desktop.

Why CSS is important

CSS created a unified standard for designing web pages that makes the process more accessible.

It’s probably best known for its user-friendliness – a coding language that no one has to be intimidated by.

With CSS, an impeccable-looking website can be achieved without hiring an expert coder.

How to enable JavaScript in Google Chrome on your Windows 10 deviceHow to enable JavaScript in your iPhone’s Settings app to improve your Safari web experienceA guide to proxy servers, the computer systems that relay information between users and networks, and how they can disguise users’ online presenceA guide to using RSS feeds, the files that contain real-time updates from websites

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SpaceX plans to fit laser links to its Starlink satellites so they can beam the internet to planes for in-flight WiFi

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk wants to connect SpaceX’s satellite internet service, Starlink, to airplanes.
  • SpaceX is in talks with airlines about this in-flight internet, a Starlink vice president said, per The Verge.
  • SpaceX would need to connect its Starlink satellites by laser links for the plan to work.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

SpaceX could soon provide in-flight WiFi to airline passengers via its Starlink satellite internet service, The Verge first reported on Wednesday.

Elon Musk’s space company was in talks with commercial airlines to beam Starlink internet to their airplanes, Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s vice president of Starlink and commercial sales, said during the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit on Wednesday, per the Verge.

“We’re in talks with several of the airlines,” Hofeller said. “We have our own aviation product in development … we’ve already done some demonstrations to date, and looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future.”

Starlink mainly serves rural communities through its 1,635 low-Earth orbit satellites. A beta kit costs $499 upfront, plus $99 a month for a subscription.

SpaceX plans to use airline antennas, which work in a similar way to existing user terminals but have “obvious enhancements for aviation connectivity,” Hofeller said. The company would design and build tech specific for aircraft, he added.

SpaceX would start connecting each Starlink satellite with laser links that don’t need to bounce off ground stations. This would mean airplanes flying over remote areas, such as oceans, can still offer in-flight internet.

“The next generation of our constellation, which is in work, will have this inter-satellite connectivity,” Hofeller said during the summit, per The Verge.

Hofeller said that low-Earth orbit satellites, including Starlink’s network, would outperform existing geostationary satellites.

“It’s going to be up to the individual airline whether they want to be responsive to that, or if they’re okay with having a system that is not as responsive to their customers’ demand,” he said.

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment about which airlines they were in talks with.

In March, the space company requested in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it connect moving vehicles, including planes, ships, and large trucks, to Starlink, a constellation which could have up to 42,000 satellites in orbit by mid-2027.

“No longer are users willing to forego connectivity while on the move,” SpaceX director of satellite policy, David Goldman, said in the FCC request.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What does NSFW mean? Understanding the internet shorthand used to describe content that’s not suitable in professional settings

Internet acronym NSFW on keyboard keys with blue background
NSFW means “not safe for work.”

  • NSFW is an internet acronym that means “not safe for work.”
  • NSFW often serves as a content warning, urging the viewer to use discretion or avoid the post or image when they are in a professional or public setting.
  • On the more extreme end, content may carry a NSFL (not safe for life) tag to warn about potentially disturbing content.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’ve spent any time on social media or in forums that occasionally feature edgy or explicit content, you’ve likely encountered the acronym, NSFW, that commonly denotes such material.

What NSFW means

NSFW stands for “not safe for work.” The acronym is a common warning for internet content considered to be inappropriate for viewing at work or in public.

A NSFW tag conveys that, unless you’re OK with risking a conversation with the HR department, you should avoid looking at this content on a work computer or in the presence of other people.

The NSFW tag began mostly as a reference to warn about sexual content, nudity, or violence, but has evolved to encompass a range of delicate and potentially triggering content for the viewer.

NSFW is often attached, in an abundance of caution, to any link or image – even one that’s contextually innocent – that might raise eyebrows. For example, a page about cleaning on Reddit might include the NSFW tag to a photo of a dirty toilet.

Speaking of Reddit, the social media site is one of the most common places you’ll see the NSFW tag. You might also see NSFW used more informally, like typed in at the top of a Facebook post, or more formally, where an entire Discord server or channel can be designated as NSFW.

Reddit screen on laptop with smartphone reddit logo
Be cautious when using Reddit on work devices as some content is NSFW.

What NSFL means

On the internet, there are videos and images that extend beyond NSFW – explicit content that’s often more graphic and disturbing. Fortunately, there is also a “not safe for life” (NSFL) tag that provides an elevated trigger warning.

While viewing NSFW content might embarrass you or cause you to be reprimanded, NSFL images or videos have the potential to upset or severely trigger you. Some examples of NSFL content might be a video where a person’s death was captured on film, or an image that’s not violent in nature but graphic nonetheless, like medical procedures.

What SFW means

You will also occasionally see online content with a “safe for work” (SFW) designation. Generally, these tags are attached to posts with titles that seem NSFW in nature, but actually aren’t.

For instance, you might see a Reddit post with an image titled, “I got poison ivy in the worst possible place…” with a SFW tag, indicating the body part in the image isn’t graphic in nature and generally safe to view in the presence of others.

What is AFK’s meaning? The history behind the internet acronym and and how to use it in a chatWhat is a VPN? How a Virtual Private Network can help protect your privacy onlineA guide to network security keys, the password for your Wi-Fi networkHow to delete your Reddit posting and commenting history in 2 ways

Read the original article on Business Insider

What does NSFW mean? A guide to the internet acronym for content that’s not suitable in professional settings, and terms related to it

Internet acronym NSFW on keyboard keys with blue background
NSFW means “not safe for work.”

  • NSFW is an internet acronym that means “not safe for work.”
  • NSFW often serves as a content warning, urging the viewer to use discretion or avoid the post or image when they are in a professional or public setting.
  • On the more extreme end, content may carry a NSFL (not safe for life) tag to warn about potentially disturbing content.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’ve spent any time on social media or in forums that occasionally feature edgy or explicit content, you’ve likely encountered the acronym, NSFW, that commonly denotes such material.

What NSFW means

NSFW stands for “not safe for work.” The acronym is a common warning for internet content considered to be inappropriate for viewing at work or in public.

A NSFW tag conveys that, unless you’re OK with risking a conversation with the HR department, you should avoid looking at this content on a work computer or in the presence of other people.

The NSFW tag began mostly as a reference to warn about sexual content, nudity, or violence, but has evolved to encompass a range of delicate and potentially triggering content for the viewer.

NSFW is often attached, in an abundance of caution, to any link or image – even one that’s contextually innocent – that might raise eyebrows. For example, a page about cleaning on Reddit might include the NSFW tag to a photo of a dirty toilet.

Speaking of Reddit, the social media site is one of the most common places you’ll see the NSFW tag. You might also see NSFW used more informally, like typed in at the top of a Facebook post, or more formally, where an entire Discord server or channel can be designated as NSFW.

Reddit screen on laptop with smartphone reddit logo
Be cautious when using Reddit on work devices as some content is NSFW.

What NSFL means

On the internet, there are videos and images that extend beyond NSFW – explicit content that’s often more graphic and disturbing. Fortunately, there is also a “not safe for life” (NSFL) tag that provides an elevated trigger warning.

While viewing NSFW content might embarrass you or cause you to be reprimanded, NSFL images or videos have the potential to upset or severely trigger you. Some examples of NSFL content might be a video where a person’s death was captured on film, or an image that’s not violent in nature but graphic nonetheless, like medical procedures.

What SFW means

You will also occasionally see online content with a “safe for work” (SFW) designation. Generally, these tags are attached to posts with titles that seem NSFW in nature, but actually aren’t.

For instance, you might see a Reddit post with an image titled, “I got poison ivy in the worst possible place…” with a SFW tag, indicating the body part in the image isn’t graphic in nature and generally safe to view in the presence of others.

What is AFK’s meaning? The history behind the internet acronym and and how to use it in a chatWhat is a VPN? How a Virtual Private Network can help protect your privacy onlineA guide to network security keys, the password for your Wi-Fi networkHow to delete your Reddit posting and commenting history in 2 ways

Read the original article on Business Insider

Meet the cofounders of Pizzaslime, who created Gen Z’s go-to for meme fashion and recently launched a record label with Diplo

pizzaslime
Nick “Stove” Santiago and Matthew Hwang, founders of Pizzaslime.

  • Streetwear brand and creative agency Pizzaslime has made a name for itself among Gen Z with meme fashion.
  • Now, it’s expanding. Pizzaslime recently launched a record label and is working on a TV show.
  • The founders spoke to Insider about how the internet sits at the center of everything they do.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Wearing the Bernie Sanders inauguration meme, sleeping on a pillow emblazoned with the Musk tweet “Bitcoin is my safe word,” and donning an “Oprah 2020” hoodie are all possible because of Pizzaslime.

Even the website for the streetwear brand and creative agency, where you’ll see much of the merch mentioned above is sold out, is a play on the gossip website TMZ, filled with satirical articles and ads.

“Sometimes we’re not even sure if it’s going to connect with people all the time,” said Nick “Stove” Santiago, one of the brand’s millennial cofounders. “We’re trying and having a good time with it. And it works.”

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A Pizzaslime Tweet pillow.

Work it does. Pizzaslime has gained traction among Gen Z and DJs alike, appearing on influencers Emma Chamberlain and Addison Rae and on Diplo and Skrillex. While Pizzaslime found cult fandom in its early days, cofounder Matthew Hwang said it exploded during the pandemic thanks to the rise of TikTok, where Pizzaslime has 1 million followers.

The merchandise line, founded in 2013, has acted as both a sly observer and ironic commenter on political, economic, and cultural moments that have gone viral. By offering an implicit critique on media consumption and internet and celebrity obsession, the merch itself tends to go viral.

In 2020 alone, the clothing side of Pizzaslime raked in $2 million in sales, peaking in April, according to screen shots verified by Insider (they declined to share total business revenue overall). That’s a lot of stonk for a brand with only two employees: the 33-year-old Stove and 34-year-old Hwang.

The pandemic has only thrown up more memes for Pizzaslime fodder. “When all the WallStreetBets stuff was happening, it was energetic,” Stove said. “Me and Matt were waking up at six in the morning to text each other about stocks. Like we were in it, you know, it’s real and authentic to us. And that was the [thing] we thought would be funny to make.”

wallstreetbetsvintagerapteeGME
Pizzaslime is known for turning memes into fashion.

The result: a typically Pizzaslimish graphic tee featuring a mashup of things easily identifiable by the young and internet-savvy: the logos of Reddit, WallStreetBets, and Gamestop; a fat pile of money; a stock board; and Elon Musk’s famous tweet, “Gamestonk!!”

Pizzaslime’s success has propelled them to new ventures: the launch of a record label with Diplo last spring, their New York Fashion Week debut in February, and an expansion into film television. At the center of it all is the internet.

The art of meme fashion

Stove and Hwang met as coworkers, doing marketing and creative direction at a music management company, but not all their merch ideas fit the artists they were working with. So they decided to make T-shirts for themselves, wearing them backstage at concerts or events, and the entertainment crowd gravitated toward their designs.

As they tell it, the Kardashians were wearing Pizzaslime’s Gucci-Versace-Louis Vuitton mash-up at a Kanye West concert. “Kris Jenner just turns around, and is like, ‘I love that shirt,'” Hwang said. “So I was like, ‘Oh, OK. Let us contact you.'”

These organic moments of “being in the right place at the right time,” as Santiago describes it, put Pizzaslime on track to being the internet-savvy brand it is today. They count the Gucci-Versace shirt as their first big streetwear hit. Since then, their merch has flown off the site, from their Crocs collab that repurposed the shoes into crossbody bags for $300 to their “Stop looking at my” line, famously worn by Billie Eilish.

crocs pizzaslime
Pizzaslime’s Crocs collab.

Pizzaslime has tapped into the emerging trend of meme fashion before the powerhouses caught on, with major players from Balenciaga to Maison Margiela now in the space, Morgane Le Caer, content lead at global fashion shopping platform Lyst, told Insider.

“Virality has become one of the key factors in determining the success of fashion products,” she said. “What matters to younger consumers is what captures their attention and has the ability to spread like wildfire across social networks – and this is exactly why meme fashion is so popular.”

Read more: The CEO of the BUZZ ETF backed by Dave Portnoy breaks down the 3 strategies his social media-driven index is using to capitalize on the GameStop revolution

Santiago was hesitant to use a buzzword like “authenticity” but acknowledged he couldn’t find a better term. “There’s a real rawness and authenticity to what we do,” he said. “We aren’t afraid to make a statement or post something and lose 1,000 followers.” He added that this caught on with Gen Z because it relates to authenticity more than his own generation, which he finds a bit more susceptible to marketing.

“It’s hard to define what Pizzaslime is,” he said. “For some people, it’s sort of like a barrier of entry they find confusing. At the same time, it’s given us the ability to build all these verticals and do everything and try everything.”

But that’s not to say Pizzaslime lacks strategy. “We’re not just sort of like throwing darts to the wall,” Santiago said. “The strategy really comes in with like, OK, now, how do we present the idea? How do we get this out there?”

The power of being undefined

Pizzaslime’s greatest strength is its lack of definition.

The verticalization allows them to move in all sorts of spaces differently. The work, Santiago said, is figuring out how all of these verticals intertwine to fit into the Pizzaslime ecosystem.

“We don’t have to think like a traditional clothing brand because we also act as an agency and we’re developing TV shows,” he said. “It’s just all feeding each other and having a division for that, so what we’re really doing is building our Willy Wonka factory.”

While the internet informs and inspires its creative decisions, it also helps them figure out what sort of strategies and mechanisms they want to try with clients like Crocs or Paramount Pictures for their marketing arm. Santiago likened it to a proof of concept – trying things with their own brand, only to apply those discoveries to the agency side.

pizzaslime animated
Pizzaslime made their New York Fashion Week debut in February in the form of an animated virtual presentation.

Building out these verticals has put Hwang and Santiago at full speed. When asked for some of Pizzaslime’s key turning points over the years, they took pause.

“We’re going like a billion miles per hour because we’re doing so many different things at the same time,” Santiago said. “These are interesting reflection points where like, ‘Oh, right now I feel like I’m slowing down and processing this.’ It’s hard to pinpoint those moments because I’m always onto the next thing right away.'”

That they are. They’re currently working on a TV project that Santiago described as an “internetty” version of “American Idol,” all while collaborating with Amazon on a new animated TV series called “Fairfax.” And the first song of their record label, they said, just crossed 75 million streams on Spotify.

They plan to start plugging more into the label, looking at how they can tie music to products and build trends through products and sounds on social media, such as incorporate music from their record label into their TV show or collaborating with artists to put merch on Instagram. “If we’re working with a client and they want to make a TikTok campaign, we have the record label and the ability to make that TikTok song also a real song released through our record label,” Santiago said.

While they’ve been approached by venture capitalists, they said they’re taking the time to find the right strategic partners that would help scale up Pizzaslime.

“We want to jump into spaces and places that don’t have strong internet voices or tones like we do,” Santiago said, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised if you can find Pizzaslime skincare at some point. “We want to do some pretty unexpected stuff.”

Read the original article on Business Insider