The boom in self-employment and side hustles could transform the entire economy
Hi, I'm Matt Turner, the editor in chief of business at Insider. Welcome back to
On the agenda today:
- Self-employment and
side hustlesare booming — and they could transform the entire economy. Elon Muskis feuding with the man who has the most sway over his empire: Pete Buttigieg.
- Hollywood insiders describe Warner Bros. Discovery's mysterious streaming chief, JB Perrette.
- Big Law's "invisible middle" feels shortchanged as their colleagues make more than ever.
Let me know what you think of all our stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe to Insider for access to all our investigations and features. New to the
Side hustles are the next big thing
We're in the middle of a self-employment and side-hustle boom.
For decades the US had been in an entrepreneurial slump. Outside of Silicon Valley, few were striking out on their own. And once the pandemic hit, economists worried it would further harm business creation.
But as our senior correspondent Aki Ito writes, something surprising happened instead. Applications for new businesses began to soar — as did side hustles. On Etsy, sales surged by almost 25% in 2021. And over the past two years, registration on the freelancing platform Fiverr more than doubled.
"The numbers are remarkable," one economist told Aki. "People see that there are market opportunities out there, given the new normal we're headed towards."
Here, Aki breaks down what's going on — and why this has the potential to create jobs, lower prices, and drive innovation.
What made you start looking into this?
My editor had noticed there seemed to be a lot of interest about online side hustles recently, and I also knew there was a very surprising spike in new business applications during the pandemic. We thought there was room for a big story that combined these two observations, explaining the rise in both full-time and part-time entrepreneurship, and why that was such a big deal for the future of the
How could this self-employment boom affect the US economy?
New businesses do all kinds of great things for the economy — everything from spurring innovation to creating lots of jobs to injecting more competition into the marketplace. These are the things that make an economy stronger in the long run, which is why this recent boom is so exciting. If it continues, it really could put the US economy on a permanently better path.
What's one of the most interesting side hustles you came across?
One person I spoke to for my story was Melissa Ottenbreit, and when her employer cut her pay early in the pandemic, the first side hustle she turned to was dropshipping. Early on, it was made out to be this easy, super-lucrative thing — even though in reality it involves razor-thin profit margins for the vast majority of people.
Melissa tried it for a while but decided she was bleeding too much money and turned to a new side hustle of résumé coaching. Résumé coaching isn't sexy or new the way that dropshipping is, but it's been a much more consistent source of secondary income for Melissa.
Read the full story here:
- Think working from home has changed your job? Wait 'til you see what the explosion in side hustles and self-employment is going to do
- The age of the tyrannical boss is over — and managers who don't give employees more freedom will face a talent reckoning
- People are terrified about a recession — and that means the economy is about to get a whole lot better
Elon Musk is beefing with Pete Buttigieg
Over the past few years, Elon Musk has been feuding with Pete Buttigieg, the most powerful transportation official in the country — and the man who regulates Tesla and SpaceX — over everything from tax credits for electric vehicles to the safety of driverless cars.
But given Musk's bid to take over Twitter, their beef is ironic: He is in the position to propose the $44 billion acquisition only because of the billions his companies have received in government largesse. So why is he going after the man who holds the greatest sway over his primary business?
Read the full story here:
- Wall Street's dirty little secret: Bankers are betting on Elon Musk, not Twitter
- Twitter could wreck Elon Musk's empire
Meet Warner Bros. Discovery's streaming chief
JB Perrette, a relatively unknown NBC exec who helped launch Hulu, wants to combine HBO Max and Discovery+ on a single platform. But the high-stakes move comes just after the company pulled the plug on its CNN+ streaming service, a decision that will eliminate hundreds of jobs.
Insider spoke with six executives who've worked with or done business with Perrette about his decision-making and leadership style. They broke down how he might tackle the challenges ahead.
Read the full story here:
- Warner Bros. Discovery streaming chief JB Perrette is a mystery to many in Hollywood. Insiders say he's a smart, low-key problem solver who 'doesn't need to be the loudest guy in the room.'
- 'Hubris. Nothing more.' Insiders blame Jeff Zucker and Jason Kilar for the rapid demise of CNN+ as Warner Bros. Discovery leadership looks forward.
Big Law's "invisible middle" feels left behind
As major law firms distribute profits to partners after a busy 2021, they're under increasing pressure to pay their rainmakers a bigger slice — but that means less is left over for partners lower in the ranks.
Insider spoke with 23 current and former law-firm partners, associates, and recruiters about the widening gap in compensation, which some said has created rifts in firm culture and stymied the growth of junior lawyers.
Read the full story here:
- Big Law's 'invisible middle' say they're feeling left behind while rainmakers and junior lawyers are making more than ever
More of this week's top reads:
- Insider checked out seven virtual worlds to bring you this comprehensive guide to the metaverse.
- Amazon's biggest compensation overhaul in years has left some employees frustrated.
- Layoffs at Wells Fargo's home-lending unit could affect teams across the US.
- These 15 cities are seeing the biggest cuts in home prices.
- A JPMorgan exec walked back the number of days employees need to be in the office.
- Google, Meta, and Snap had a terrible quarter. Apple was a major reason.
Event invite: Join us Tuesday, May 10 at noon ET for "Creating Broad-based Economic Prosperity," in partnership with Bank of America. Sustainable-finance experts, business leaders, and ESG professionals will discuss how a company affects the financial well-being of its community. Register here.
Plus: Keep updated with the latest business news throughout your weekdays by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here tomorrow.
Curated by Matt Turner. Edited by Jordan Parker Erb and Lisa Ryan, with contributions from Phil Rosen. Sign up for more Insider newsletters here.
- Air India passengers stranded in Siberia for 2 days were abandoned by the crew, had to sleep on the floor, and were only given bread and rice, relative says
- Foreign investors have been dumping vast amounts of Chinese assets, and putting money there will only get riskier
- Trump acted like 'the Godfather if it was reenacted by a 5-year-old' to try to keep his hands clean in Mar-a-Lago case: experts
- A complete itinerary for your 3 days in Srinagar
- List of famous things to buy in Munnar
- Ads that sailed into the eye of a controversy
- India tops world ranking in digital payments, records 89.5 million transactions in 2022: MyGovIndia
- Will regulate AI and ensure it doesn't harm digital citizens: Rajeev Chandrasekhar