🌊 ISIS Goes Cold Turkey

JPMorgan gobbles up anotha one, art student eats art installation, and the chess boom

Do you feel like you’re alone with your disenchantment with the news? Then do we have the poll for you! A new survey finds a whopping 74% of Americans think news media is increasing political divisions. Just 6% say it’s decreasing them.

The upside here is that most people are awake to the Big News scam: These companies don’t inform; they indoctrinate. They don’t hold a mirror to the world; they hold a mirror to conflict. They don’t trust you to think for yourself; they want to think for you.

News should provide the facts so you can form your own opinions; consuming it should be easy and enjoyable. Rant over, let’s ride 🌊

In today's edition:

  • JPMorgan gobbles up anotha one

  • Art student eats art installation

  • The chess boom

 🔑 Key Stories

Turkey Kills ISIS Leader

Turkey’s president announced that the country’s forces killed the leader of ISIS

  • In the early 2010s, ISIS conquered large parts of Syria and Iraq. The US and other countries began bombing it, and by 2019, it lost most of its territory

  • ISIS has continued to operate as a terror group, including in a region of northern Syria that Turkey occupies

  • On Sunday, Turkey’s president announced ISIS’ leader blew himself up in a confrontation with Turkey’s special forces. If true, he’s the 3rd ISIS leader to die in the last 18 months

Dig Deeper

  • “The suspected leader of [ISIS]…has been neutralized,” Turkey’s president said. “We will continue our fight without discrimination against terrorist organizations”

First Republic Collapses

First Republic Bank failed, marking the second-largest bank failure in US history

  • First Republic was the US’ 14th-largest bank at the end of 2022. It catered mostly to wealthy, coastal clients

  • In March, interest rate changes caused Silicon Valley Bank to collapse. Investors noticed First Republic was similarly vulnerable and sold out, causing its stock to fall 89% and depositors to flee

  • Last week, First Republic announced it had lost half its deposits in the first 3 months of 2023 and that its earnings had cratered. Following that, it failed to find a buyer. The US government took it over and sold it to JPMorgan

Dig Deeper

  • JPMorgan was already the US’ largest bank, with 10% of all US deposits. Laws prevent banks that large from buying smaller banks, however the government made an exception for the deal

  • That decision has led some to criticize the Biden administration. JPMorgan’s CEO said, "Our government invited us and others to step up, and we did”

New Immigration Centers

The Biden administration said it would open immigration processing centers in Colombia and Guatemala

  • Title 42 – a pandemic-era immigration policy that lets US authorities more easily deport asylum-seekers – is set to expire on May 11

  • A new policy will take effect that day, but US authorities expect illegal crossings to surge

  • To head that off, the Biden administration announced the US will open immigrant processing centers in Colombia and Guatemala, which are on the migrant route to the US. Those will allow migrants to apply to enter the US legally before they reach the border

Dig Deeper

  • In the year to September 30, 2022, US officials detained a record 2.7M undocumented migrants at the US-Mexico border. The rate has since slowed, but it’s expected to surge after Title 42 expires

  • In announcing the policy, the Biden administration said, “A border-only approach to managing migration is insufficient”

NY to Ban Gas in New Buildings

New York’s governor and legislators reached a deal to ban natural gas in new buildings

  • Natural gas is a fossil fuel used to heat buildings and power appliances like stoves

  • Climate groups have spent years pushing governments to ban the use of gas appliances. In 2021, New York City’s city council banned gas appliances in buildings built after 2023

  • The new deal bans gas connections statewide in most buildings under 7 stories by 2026, and in taller ones by 2029. New buildings will therefore have no gas stoves or furnaces and no propane heating

Dig Deeper

  • The ban would not apply to some businesses, including restaurants and laundromats, or to areas where the electrical grid can’t handle the strain of electrically-powered appliances

Tired of Spam Calls?

Together with Incogni

If you’ve noticed more spam calls recently, it probably has to do with pesky data brokers. They buy your data – SSNs, DOB, home addresses, health information, contact details – and sell it to the highest bidder

  • Fortunately, Incogni is here to help. They are a personal data removal service that scrubs your personal information from the web

  • It contacts and follows up with data brokers all over the world on your behalf. It can take an individual hundreds of hours to do that

  • With Incogni, you can enjoy the spring weather and worry less about identity theft, health insurers raising your rates based on info from data brokers, robo calls, scammers taking out loans in your name, and all the other terrible things bad actors do with personal data

Dig Deeper

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Are you not intrigued? Star actor Pedro Pascal is reportedly in final talks to join the cast of the untitled sequel to Gladiator, which Ridley Scott will return to direct

  • Vice doesn’t always pay: Vice is preparing to file for bankruptcy, per a new report. The brash media company has plummeted from its once $5.7B valuation

  • Let’s cut it out: Ed Sheeran told the courtroom he’d “be done” if he is found liable for stealing Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” to make his 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud”

Wildcard

  • Devil’s lettuce went down to Georgia: Georgia’s first medical marijuana dispensaries opened up. Medical marijuana is now legal in nearly 40 states

  • Academia’s most wanted: A New Orleans high school senior has set a record for obtaining scholarship money, racking up $9.7M in scholarship offers

  • Mmm, tasty art: A South Korean student ate a banana that was part of an art installation. He said he was “hungry” after skipping breakfast

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll

Have you played chess in the last year?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

What is a false stereotype you think Europeans have about the US?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

5 years ago, chess.com – the world’s most-used chess site – had 23M users. This February, it surpassed 120M. 

To learn how that happened, Roca sat down with the site’s co-founder for an interview. He told us there's been a “revolution” in the game.

Chess.com was founded by 2 college friends in 2006.

Its founders – Erik Allebest and Jay Severson – envisioned it as the “MySpace of chess.” “We wanted a community with easy, free game play, and great content,” Allebest told Roca.

In an interview, Allebest said that before Chess.com, he only had 2 options to play chess online:

“I had to pay-to-play or play for free and get cheated against and have a bad experience.” He and his co-founder envisioned a platform that was “fun and easy and accessible and free.”

Allebest and Severson gathered a team of engineers and created a platform that let users play online against strangers of similar talent level. That system also included challenges, advanced anti-cheating software, and after-game analysis.

Chess.com grew and began hosting live tournaments with prize winnings. By 2016 it had 14M users; by 2019, 30M.

Then came the pandemic, which Allebest compared to a “wave.”

Lockdowns led more people to pick up chess as a hobby, and in October 2020, Netflix released the chess-focused show “Queen’s Gambit,” which 60M+ households watched within 28 days. That, plus the introduction of a popular new streaming tournament, grew Chess.com to 49M users by the end of 2020.

Allebest said a “second wave” of major growth is ongoing.

That started late last year, when the world’s best chess player accused a lower-ranked US player of cheating, causing a massive and highly-publicized scandal. By the end of 2022, the platform had 103M users.

Several chess-related topics then went viral, Chess.com acquired a rival, and the company signed streaming partnerships that introduced millions to the game. Those trends “compounded” on each other, Allebest said, and are now “peaking all at once.”

Over the first 2 months of 2023, Chess.com recorded a 100%+ increase in monthly games played. New account signups grew 58% from the prior 2 months.

As of February 2023, Chess.com had 120M total users and 48M monthly users. By comparison, popular video games Fortnite and Minecraft have 70M and 100M monthly actives, respectively.

Chess.com is now by far the world’s largest chess site. But the growth has come so quickly that it has at times caused chess.com’s servers to crash.

Allebest said the company will continue to invest in developing new content while changing what it means to be a chess player. “It’s going to be an exciting time to be a chess fan over the next decade,” he said. “Stay tuned.”

If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Are you feeling good about the month of May?

Yes: 85%

No: 15%

Yesterday's Question:

What is your biggest driving pet peeve?

Josh from Indiana: “I think my biggest pet peeve is when people don’t use multi-lane roads (i.e. interstates) correctly. Keep right except to pass or allow a merge. You shouldn’t be riding in the left lane if others are coming up to pass you. A close second is when people drive excessively fast through busy/full parking lots (bonus for when they do so diagonally).”

Ginger from Mississippi: “People who see the sign that a lane is closing but instead of pulling into the other lane, stay in the closing lane and then try to work their way in. Note, I do not let these people in. Same people that butted in the cafeteria line in school too, I bet.”

Jess from Florida: “People who don't use turn signals! Or those that cross multiple lanes at the last minute to get into the turning lane and THEN put their directional on...”

🧠 Final Thoughts

Happy Tuesday, everyone. If any of you are Chess.com users, get in touch and you can challenge our writer Alex and co-founder Billy, both of whom love to talk up their rankings. Perhaps a Roca Rider can show them up…

—Max and Max