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10 charts that sum up 2018 (so far)

News cycles come and go, but data is forever.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in silhouette
Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Joshua Lott / Getty

It’s still summer and yet 2018 has felt years long. Here’s a look at the year so far — with a focus on tech and business stories — told through charts.

Elon Musk has been on a Twitter rampage

Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been especially prolific on Twitter this year, inspiring a full WSJ analysis and graphics package. Most recently, he surprise-announced that he was considering taking Tesla private — at a nice round number of $420 per share — with mysterious “funding secured.” Other tweets have been bizarre and inappropriate, such as accusing a diver trying to rescue children in Thailand of being a pedophile. And sometimes he’s just talking to randos.

Here’s a look at Musk’s tweet count per month, not including retweets or replies:

Electric vehicles are gearing up for a record year

While Elon Musk blows off steam, more than 152,000 plug-in electric vehicles have sold in the U.S. so far this year, putting 2018 on track for record sales. Three of the five best-selling months of all time for electric vehicles have all happened this year, according to electric vehicle publication Inside EVs, and we haven’t even reached the holidays, which marks peak car-buying season. Tesla’s Model 3 is the best-selling electric car in the U.S., and production is just ramping up.

Inside EVs is projecting that plug-in electric vehicles sales will hit 325,000 this year, a 60 percent increase. Here’s what it looks like so far:

Juul has become a vaping phenomenon

Juul seems to have finally made vaping “cool” — at least from the perspective of teens and some venture capitalists. The company, which makes sleek, flashy, flavored e-cigarettes, owns about 60 percent of the U.S. vaping market and is now valued at $15 billion — about the same as Lyft. Watch Juul take off in Google searches here:

The U.S. is still super polarized

Politics rarely make for pleasant conversation, but this year feels especially charged, with everything from gun control to international policy seeming like it’s going to upend civil society.

One effect (and/or cause) is that President Trump elicits highly divergent opinions from Americans, depending on which side of the political spectrum they fall, according to polling data from Pew Research Center. There’s a huge gulf in his approval ratings between Democrats and Republicans: Some 84 percent of Republicans approve of him compared to just 7 percent of Democrats, for a gap of 77 percentage points — more so than any other recent U.S. president.

Cryptocurrency prices are down big after last year’s crazy rise

If 2017 was the year of go-go bitcoin, 2018 has been a correction. Major cryptocurrencies bitcoin and ethereum are worth half what they were at the start of the year. Prices peaked late in 2017, when it seemed like everyone was hopping on the get-rich-quick bandwagon and glued to their Coinbase apps. Still unknown: Whether blockchain will someday power technologies or services as transformative as the internet — or not.

Facebook took a big bath, but it’s already recovering

In July, Facebook announced that its growth was really starting to slow. Its earnings report sent shares down 20 percent and knocked nearly $120 billion off the company’s market cap — the largest one-day decline in U.S. history. Already the stock had been quite volatile in 2018, thanks in part to revelations about a third-party analytics firm amassing data on Facebook users without their permission. But it’s also already gained back about a third of its crash. Here’s its stock price year-to-date:

MoviePass was, sadly, too good to be true

When MoviePass started charging $10 a month for nearly unlimited movie theater tickets, it seemed unbelievable. Since then, MoviePass has plummeted back to reality. It has tried raising prices and altering its unlimited offerings to a much more pedestrian three movies a month as it tries to stanch its cash burn. Its valuation, too, has collapsed, as majority shareholder Helios and Matheson Analytics went from being worth hundreds of millions to less than half a million dollars.

The biggest fire in California history is burning

There were 18 wildfires blazing in California recently, two of which rank among the biggest in the state’s history. In particular, this year’s Mendocino Complex fire is the largest on record for the state, with more than 300,000 acres already destroyed. Climate change, sprawling development and plenty of fuel are ushering in an era of megafires. Here’s a list of California’s largest wildfires by acreage and year:

U.S. unemployment rates are at long-time lows

The national unemployment rate is at an 18-year low, with just 3.9 percent of the workforce currently unemployed. Low unemployment is typically a sign of a strong economy, but in this case, it masks stagnating wages and the fact that many people have dropped out of the workforce.

There’s no song of the summer, but #InMyFeelings stormed social media

The “In My Feelings” Challenge, inspired by a video from Instagram comedian Shiggy, involves jumping out of a moving vehicle and dancing along to Drake’s hit song by the same name. Since the video’s debut in late June, social media has been alight with numerous adaptations of the dance routine. It has inspired more than a million posts on Instagram and more than three million tweets, using #InMyFeelingsChallenge and related hashtags.

Bonus: Electronic scooters took over U.S. sidewalks

First there were none and now they are seemingly everywhere: Within a year of launching e-scooter services, already, nearly 4 percent of people in major U.S. cities have used an electric scooter, a much swifter adoption rate than previous forms of transportation. That potential has given Bird and Lime sky-high, unicorn valuations.

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