The Messi takeover
Lionel Messi’s move to Major League Soccer under the Inter Miami team has created a shockwave through the entire sport. And it’s made some Americans actually pay attention to the game.
In case you only watch soccer once every four years, let me fill you in. Lionel Messi is an Argentine-born soccer player who has been named the world’s best men’s player of the year seven times, and who led Argentina to win the World Cup in 2022. His professional career has seen him in three clubs, Spain’s FC Barcelona, France’s Paris Saint-Germain, and most recently, USA’s Inter Miami.
Of course, the prospect of a European player of this magnitude leaving to play club football in the United States is almost unbelievable. I wish the explanation was Ted Lasso worthy, or some sort of backwards Bad News Bears, and the tale of a great player coming to grace us common folks with his presence— but alas, the move appears to be a corporate joint venture between Inter Miami, MLS, the league’s broadcast rights holders (Apple), Adidas, and the Lionel Andres Messi Corporation.
This isn’t the first time a European hot shot has hopped the pond to finish his professional career. David Beckham came to play for LA Galaxy in 2007. You’ve heard of LA Galaxy? It’s probably because of David Beckham. But even still, the Lionel Messi move feels bigger. Much bigger.
They’re saying Messi will do for US soccer what Michael Jordan did for the NBA. As we know all too well, the game of basketball was built around Jordan. The game became synonymous with the Michael Jordan brand, or better yet, the game became the Michael Jordan brand. Lionel Messi isn’t exactly positioned to be like Mike- he’s positioned to be so much more. He’s considered the world’s very best in the world’s very favorite sport. And unlike MJ’s era, Messi is playing in the time of live streaming, tweeting and tiktoking.
The “Messi Effect” is already in full swing. New York Red Bull tickets usually cost $46. With Messi’s upcoming game at the stadium, front row seats are going for as much as $3,600. And those seats pale in comparison to last week’s tickets for the Inter Miami v. Philadelphia Union match, where seats were listed for as high as $16,200. Subscriptions to MLS Season Pass, the exclusive broadcaster of matches owned by Apple TV +, have more than doubled since Messi joined Inter Miami in July. And the Chicago Fire reported that in one game against Lionel Messi and Inter Miami, the club will bring in more ticket revenue ($7-$10 million) than the other 16 games of its season. Combined.
Sure, Messi will be fun to watch, but my eyes are also on the brand collabs and marketing strategies to come.
The Maui wildfires
The wildfires that took over Maui on August 8th are considered the deadliest natural disaster in state history. Most of the historic town of Lahaina has been destroyed, with thousands of residential and commercial buildings burnt to the ground. The death toll has reached 115 people, and authorities estimate anywhere between 500 and 1,000 people remain unaccounted for.
How did this nightmare take place? Experts blame abnormally dry conditions, combined with drought and high winds. Officials on state and local levels have not yet determined the exact cause of the fire, but the conditions were similar to other parts of the US, where wildfires have been started by electrical equipment, namely old infrastructure, high winds, and dry, easily flammable brush. For an intensive (and awfully pretty) analysis of the fire’s root causes, Reuters produced a series of incredibly helpful graphics.
To make matters worse, the tragedy is beginning to expose dangerous new lows of greed. Rumors are already circulating of developers swooping in and taking advantage of families that might be forced to sell their burned lots. And the President’s weak commitment of a whopping $700 per household in aid has many Hawaiians not feeling optimistic about rebuilding.
New tool helps prevent AI theft
The latest in AI news revolves around security. Is anyone surprised?
A tool known as Glaze thwarts the attempts of AI models to perceive a work of art via pixel-level tweaks that go unnoticed by the human eye. The technology was developed by computer scientists at the University of Chicago, who proudly tout Glaze as a “way to fight back.” Think Braveheart, but with a Revenge of the Nerds vibe.
What’s the big deal? Well, the rise of artificial intelligence tools threaten to put human artists out of work. Many AI models are even trained to quietly scrape an artist’s work off the internet without consent or compensation. In some cases, individual artists have even found their own names can be used as literal prompts to instruct the AI model to generate imagery in their specific style.
Big takeaway here- people are stealing. And it’s not fair. There seems to be a library of tools now available that make it easier than ever for people to manipulate images in a way that can sow chaos or upend the livelihoods of adults. And with laws and regulations struggling to keep up with developments in artificial intelligence, there’s a clear power imbalance.
Enter Glaze. The product uses machine-learning algorithms to put an invisible cloak on artworks that will thwart AI models’ attempts to understand the images. Artists can now take a digital image of their artwork, run it through Glaze, and “afterwards be confident that this piece of artwork will now look dramatically different to an AI model than it does to a human.” Sweet.
Tips & Tricks
A nifty handbook from TikTok on how to best advertise on the platform. If you’re thinking there’s no way your company could advertise on TikTok, then this guide is for you.
Benedict Evans discusses the future of video conferencing. The pandemic ushered in the dominance of Zoom, and now we can’t imagine the workday without it. But what’s next?
More thoughts on AI from Ezra Klein. This episode covers AI’s helpful role in some of humanity’s hardest problems. Worth a listen.
We’ve still got the Barbie soundtrack on repeat. Dua Lipa’s Dance the Night is a tune you can’t help but bust a move to. And yes. We are still saying “bust a move.”
More News from the Week.
- Cottage cheese gets a second chance. Thank goodness.
- Apparently, Cinderella is a real card shark, and no one can get Sleeping Beauty away from the craps table.
- Triple digit temps and carseats handing out third degree burns? Can only mean one thing. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
- Rolling Stone’s list of 50 of the worst TV network decisions. A fun read.
- Dunkin’ Donuts is now offering spiked coffee drinks, which seems like a super responsible idea.