Check your Pulse #62

tokenized advertising, reframing failure as possibility, and why the talent is staying focused

Hi, I’m Sari Azout and this is the the 62nd edition of Check your Pulse, a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human. Today’s issue is sponsored by Intent, a dev shop that has built over 160 apps for startups like Oura, HQ Trivia, and Lover. If you’re looking for a development partner, reach out to them here.


On reframing failure as possibility: It’s not groundbreaking to point out that people exist in very different emotional realities, but it still amazes me. In particular because the world’s mood, judging by my Instagram feed, has been fun, vibrantly alive, a pent up hunger to make up for lost time, while my own mood for the past few months has been bleh - I’m just muddling through my days, getting by, hoping that the milestone of birthing a human being (any day now) will relieve some of the pain I’ve endured as a result of the shitshow that is getting lung surgery at seven months pregnant. Like any good American, I felt the pressure to power through the pain and chaos and keep crossing things off my to-do list.

I’m a list person. I always feel better after making lists. By all accounts, my ambitious goals at the start of the year didn’t survive contact with the real world. I have two choices: beat myself up for not doing what I set out to do, or respect my limitations, get off the fucking hamster wheel for no other reason than my body needs it, and be excited to have ideas to come back to in the future. I’m choosing the latter. If you find yourself today or in the future going through a shitstorm that derails your plans, I hope you find a way to allow the gap between where you are and where you want to be inspire you, instead of become an excuse to beat yourself up.

On Ghost Knowledge. Startupy’s Drop001 - Ghost Knowledge - was fun! Here’s a deck with recap + learnings. Overall, it’s clear that there is a market for one-off async knowledge sharing, and this works best with knowledge that provides a ton of utility to a few people vs. some utility to a ton of people. For example, if you’re building a recommendation feed inside an app, you’re probably willing to pay big $$$ for Twitter’s Feed designer to share his/her learnings. I still think there’s an underserved market for practical, specific business knowledge, the sort of secret intellectual capital few people have access to. When an angel investor writes a check into a startup, more than buying an asset with a potential return, they are paying to learn, and getting a status symbol in the process. What if instead of raising traditional VC, you announced you are working on something and were paid by people to document your learnings? My bet is people would pay. There’s so much talk about learning in public - but how much of that learning is performative sharing of selective metrics vs. transparent, highly actionable insights (this is why this account is so good)? I don’t know if we’ll run a Ghost Knowledge Season Two, but if we do, one idea is let creators set up bounties for themselves and get paid to learn in public. The core thesis remains unchanged: we need better models to fund one-off knowledge sharing that is not part of a subscription or publication.

On tokenized advertising. Here’s another idea some friends and I have been toying with (👀maybe drop 002?) — what if you could own a small piece of the digital real estate in promising sites/startups you believe in? In the physical real estate business, it is well known that value is driven primarily by one thing: location, location, location!  The same logic applies to digital spaces, but thus far there have been few ways to monetize valuable digital real estate (domain squatting?). Owning shares of a startup has proven to be a huge source of wealth creation - but most people can’t invest in startups, either due to lack of access or not being accredited investors. And most startups thus far have had to trade money for freedom, defaulting to raising venture funding even though the tool of venture capital is appropriate for a tiny, tiny fraction of companies. I think there’s an opportunity for tokenized advertising to allow people to bet early on promising sites, while opening up a new revenue stream for startups to raise funding from their community. The lines between patronage, investing, and advertising are blurring. Ad products typically only work once you have millions of eyeballs. But tokenization introduces a new dynamic. By combining the benefits of an ad with the appreciation potential of an NFT, your community has a unique way to align themselves with your mission, promote their projects, and retain significant upside potential, making it possible to bet early on promising sites. I feel way out of my league here and I’m sure I’m missing something. If you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

On the talent of staying focused. One of my deeply held beliefs is that it is more important to work on the right thing than it is to work many hours. Another way to put this is to say that what many people attribute to genius is just time. Sure, not all of us have the song writing abilities of Lin Manuel Miranda. But how many of us have spent seven years cranking on one thing? It took Lin one year alone to write the song My Shot. Committing to one thing is really fucking hard. In Dedicated, Pete Davis talks about how we live in “Infinite Browsing Culture,” where we’re presented with the illusion of endless optionality for everything: content, romantic partners, jobs, side gigs and creative projects. He argues that the people we truly admire commit instead of browse. Look around -  Packy committed to the newsletter game. Li committed to the creator economy. David Perell committed to writing. Any long-term project requires sustained interest through ebbs and flows in confidence, and prolonged periods of boredom and hopelessness. The talent, I suppose, is staying focused. 

Than Average is an interesting experiment in how you value and compare yourself to others. ⚖️

What's old is new again! Mailman lets you receive emails in batches a few times a day vs. email just flowing in constantly. If you want to protect your focus and make your inbox significantly calmer, give it a spin. The best part? No app to download, no software to install. Just a simple plugin. Get 20% off your first year using this link. (sponsored) 📪

Designer brain, too real 🤣👇🏾

The retail price of a bottle of Coca-Cola stayed set at 5 cents for 70 years (1890-1959) despite inflation, 3 wars, and the Great Depression. The main reason? Coke's vending machines were built to only accept nickels and the company didn't want to double the price. 🤯

Whoa, did you know California is the 5th largest economy in the world? 🌎👇🏾

This resonates 💯👇🏾

Startups on my radar 🚀

  • Mighty - an e-comm platform for kids to run their own businesses.

  • Pietra - really solid merch-as-a-service business.

  • Nue Life - psychedelics meets tech mental wellness platform.

  • Path - a robo-advisor for Gen Z.

The Tinderization of the Internet. People want to use social media to meet other people—not to win the social analytics game. No one cares how many people you matched with on Tinder. No one cares how many followers you have on Twitter. Did you find love? Did you find sex? Did you find a friend? These are the questions that matter.

Rex Woodbury, on the Financialization of Everything What’s groundbreaking about crypto is that it shifts the web from social currency to economic currency. When I like your Instagram post today, I grant you some social capital; what’s the equivalent for the cryptomedia age? Me “liking” your content may mean me financially investing in your success and sharing in future income. Maybe Spotify’s Year in Review will award “stock” in your top artists. If you’re in the top 1% of Olivia Rodrigo listeners, you get 1,000 shares of $OLIVIA token, good for 0.001% of her Spotify royalties. The value being created online today largely goes uncaptured. That won’t happen in the future—we’ll all be investors and equity owners, sharing in our own upsides and the upsides of the people we believe in.


This newsletter is free but not cheap. I don’t expect you to pay me anything, but if you’re feeling extra thankful, my venmo is @sari-azout

If you’re wondering who’s behind this newsletter:

My name is Sari Azout. I am a design-thinker, strategist, angel investor, and founder of Startupy (coming soon). My mission is to bring more humanity and creativity to technology and business.

Want more?

Follow me on TwitterMedium, and InstagramOr get access to my second brain. 🧠

Thanks for being here!

Introducing Ghost Knowledge – a startupy.world drop

Knowledge from the people that don't write enough

Hi, I’m Sari Azout and this is the the 61st edition of Check your Pulse, a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human.

Hello, hello!

Last year, when I decided to take a step back from the consulting world, I made a promise to myself: I was going to use my expanded brain real estate to build cool, creative, values-aligned Internet experiments.

Today, I’m excited to launch Ghost Knowledge, a 1-week crowdfunding experiment to get the people who don’t normally write online to share their knowledge. 👻 🧠


Why does this matter?

Human evolution can be seen through the lens of publishing advancements; from oral language and the printing press, to ad-funded Internet writing.

Recently, subscription media has made great strides, with Substack popularizing newsletter subscriptions as the dominant business model for writing online.

But the paid newsletter model only works for a certain kind of writer – one that wants to primarily dedicate themselves to sharing their ideas online, consistently. The model doesn’t work for the inspired one-timer, busy founder, or expert practitioner that doesn’t want the pressure to publish often.

There's a leaky pipeline of knowledge from expert communities to the outside world – too much knowledge remains locked behind in emails and private exchanges or behind company walls. 

We call this “ghost knowledge”.


How does Ghost Knowledge work?

Ghost Knowledge was created to experiment with a new way to fund quality, one-off writing that’s not part of a subscription or newsletter. How does it work? SIMPLE.

1. Submit an idea for an essay you’d want to read along with whom you'd want the author to be OR support other people's requests.

2. Pledge $ to the crowdfund.

3. If the crowdfund meets a minimum of $500, we reach out to the author. If the author agrees to write the piece, we’ll reach out to collect your payment. 

❤️ Oh, and if you’re the original requester, you get 10% of the proceeds of the crowdfund – a fun experiment in shared upside!

What’s in it for…

Authors
A path to being paid for one-off work that's not part of a subscription or newsletter, and that remains a public good (no paywall).

Patrons
Access to insights from people that don’t normally share their knowledge + the social and utilitarian benefits of supporting the creators you believe in. 

Everyone else
Knowledge without paywalls.


As a bootstrapped project, there are a lot of things on our wishlist we couldn’t get to. But constraints breed creativity and many hours deep in the Airtable and Zapier forums later, we are proud preachers of the no-code gospel.

What a time to be alive! What a time to be making things online!


If you’re feeling the Ghost Knowledge vibe and believe in what the small and mighty Startupy crew is doing, here’s how you can help 👇

UPVOTE US ON PRODUCT HUNT

REQUEST AN ESSAY

SUPPORT EXISTING REQUESTS

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

Cheers to a world with fewer, better content 👊
Cheers to making the Internet a more delightful place 👊
And cheers to normalizing Zoom meetings with your camera off 👊

A million times, thank you!
Sari ✌️

This newsletter is free but not cheap. I don’t expect you to pay me anything, but if you’re feeling extra thankful, my venmo is @sari-azout

If you’re wondering who’s behind this newsletter:

My name is Sari Azout. I am a design-thinker, strategist, early stage startup investor at Level Ventures, and founder of Startupy. My mission is to bring more humanity and creativity to technology and business.

Want more?

Follow me on Twitter and InstagramOr get access to my second brain. 🧠

Thanks for being here!

Check your Pulse #61

on my mind

Hi, I’m Sari Azout and this is the the 61st edition of Check your Pulse, a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human. Today’s issue is sponsored by Intent, a dev shop that has built over 160 apps and 50 MVPs for some of the most exciting startups, including Oura, Block Renovation, and Keeps. If you’re building something, reach out to them here.


Hello, friends.

For most of last year I was able to let an idea rattle around in my brain for a day or two, and then like magic, a fully formed think piece or even a whole essay would pop into my head. I can’t seem to find the headspace for that these days, but I’m trying something different today. Instead of a fully formed essay, I’m sharing a collection of evolving notes and things on my mind. More half baked ideas, less friction to hitting that SEND button.

🧠 I spent a lot of time going through old photos on my phone when I was in the hospital. One thing I noticed - there’s a big gap between seeing a photo of myself and appreciating it. It’s only days (or years) later that I appreciate how happy I was in that moment, or how fabulous I looked. We are so used to being grateful, but this often happens in the form of nighttime rituals (like the one I practice with my kids every night) that, while worthwhile on some level, are just an abstract reminder that on paper we have it pretty good. Gratitude and happiness, when we do genuinely feel it, arises from experiences we are currently having. I love the Kurt Vonnegut quote that goes: “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” When you feel pain, for example, simply remembering that you have been healthy in the past is a dull comfort compared to how wonderful it feels when you luxuriate in feeling good right in the moment. For me, right now, it’s wonderful that I have this warm drink. This laptop is so quick; it doesn’t lag like the old one. This chair is comfortable. The sunset views from my backyard are insane. There's nothing to say here to round it out — all I know is I’m spending more time noticing when I’m happy, and less time evaluating my life in my head. On that note, here’s a photo of my extremely pregnant self, taken yesterday.

🧠 Believing that things last is the root of our unhappiness. Nothing, no matter how good or bad, is going to last. In pain? It will pass. Sleep-deprived with a newborn? It will pass. There's a Jewish folktale about King Solomon asking a counselor for an adage that would make the happy man sad, and the sad man happy. The counselor, perplexed, asked a jeweler in the bazaar for advice. The jeweler inscribed on a ring: 'This too shall pass.' Call it obvious, but it’s taken me my entire life to half-master this axiom.

🧠 Status symbols change: Idleness and leisure were considered virtues in the ancient world, where today being busy is a badge of honor. Owning a car used to represent freedom. We’re now transitioning to a world where not having a car is freedom. In the past, going online was a luxury. Now, going offline is a luxury. There was a time when a feed full of selfies was cool. Now it’s lame. One of the most fascinating things about Poparazzi is that it shot itself to the #1 spot in the App Store by building its entire product around one of Instagram’s least important features: tagged photos. Status symbol changes represent new product opportunities.

🧠 On the topic of Poparazzi, it’s clear that the design space for even seemingly trivial software is huge. We’ll continue to see successful new product variants in many categories. Why? Because software today is as much a utility as it is an expression of psychology and culture. For example, Startupy is my own interpretation of how the world of work/collaboration is changing, what new information graphs are missing, and how people might want to search in conditions of information abundance. The product itself reflects how I see the world. If product is art and philosophy, it follows there’s room for many interpretations and dynamics are less winner take all than we’ve been led to believe.

🧠 The more my career takes me in the direction of creative projects that require peace and quiet, alone time, and imagination, the more I realize that being productive has very little to do with high-stakes, high intensity conferences, back to back meetings, can't-catch-a-breath to-do lists, or endless projects I’ll half-ass due to exhaustion. What makes work good is time to read, think, slow down, and create a rich inner life. In other words, good work comes from slowing the fuck down and trusting that good ideas will come through if we give ourselves enough time and space to see them. The biggest lie founders tell themselves is that if they slow down they’ll get left behind.

🧠 As I’m spending more time on Startupy, I’m thinking about how I want to build this company. I’m just as interested in what I’m building (the product) than in how I’m building it (the process). I’m still thinking through what matters to me but I keep coming back to one thing: strip away the bullshit. For customers - it means no default on notifications, or unskippable ads. It means calling them humans, not consumers. For us as a company it means no meetings when an email will do. It also means keeping the team as small as possible and finding a way to do things without hiring more people. It means building the business at a pace that suits my sanity. And it means really, really caring. I want everything we do to be tasteful.

🧠 Products we’re using at Startupy that I’m obsessed with: Mercury (banking), Linear (project management), Figma (design), Typeform (forms), Webflow and Zapier (for a drop we’re launching next week), Airtable (database), Stripe and Memberful (payments and member management). What we’re still looking for: Analytics (we’re using Fathom but I’m not sold and I hate Google Analytics), Budgeting/Finance (waiting for Runway to launch), Community Software (am I the only person in this world who profusely dislikes Discord?) and better ways to coordinate and distribute equity/revenue to contributors (looking at Fairmint, Rally, Sourcecred, and others… but the solution space still feels ripe here).

🧠 Changes in tech and culture have opened the possibility space for how groups can work together (Packy wrote a bang post yesterday exploring this). A core part of the long-term thesis for Startupy is that a new form of organizing that makes it easy for groups of people to collaborate is not just possible, but optimal. Corporate legacy structures are outdated. Old social technologies like coops are ready to be paired with modern technologies (like tokens) that can align the incentives of collaborators in new ways. For many people, the idea of a long-term career is being replaced by a string of interesting projects and flexible ownership will power this shift. A lot of the conversation around “redefinition of teams” and new employment models is happening in DAOs but we need more user interfaces to help us understand the possibilities, and to help us bridge the gap between web2 and web3.

🧠 Self-organization and decentralized power are one of the strongest themes of the blockchain/DAO/decentralized movement. I’m drawn to the ideals of governing collectively, where decision-making power is shared among those doing the work. But I have a hard time reconciling the idea of no top-down control with the reality that a good product requires a certain degree of “founder dictatorship” to embody a singular and coherent identity.

A Union College study found that fraternity students saw a 0.25 drop in GPA, but a 36% rise in lifetime income known as the “Bro Wage Premium.” Personal networks matter. 🍹

I enjoyed taking this just launched personality test, by Ray Dalio. 🔮

Great Marc Andreessen interview. I was particularly drawn to his remarks on Reality Privilege, which I wholeheartedly agree with. The vast majority of humanity, lacks Reality Privilege -- their online world is, or will be, immeasurably richer and more fulfilling than most of the physical and social environment around them... Most people will be able to express far fuller versions of themselves and have richer and more fulfilling lives online than they would have in the old purely offline world… We should build -- and we are building -- online worlds that make life and work and love wonderful for everyone, no matter what level of reality deprivation they find themselves in. 🖥️

This: The goal is resonance - resonated. When two people work on a shared project – a joke, gossip, a product, an essay – and are able to understand and build on each other, that’s the peak of the human condition. 💯

Whoa. Jumping from 25,000 feet without a parachute and landing safely. 🪂

Mare of Eastown is the best show I’ve watched in a long time. Kate Winslet deserves all the awards! 📽️

This list of the 28 best affordable hotels in the world is giving me serious wanderlust. ✈️

LOVE the idea of a human library. 📚

Startups on my radar 🚀

  • MeetsySoftware that automatically pairs your community members for 1:1s - scaling intimacy.

  • June: Instant analytics, on top of Segment.

  • Marco: Curated experiences that bring teams together

  • Party by Numbers: A NYC-based events company that delivers a whole party - food, bev, decor, and flair - direct to your door.

  • Blank Street: A small format coffee-shop that is actually a platform to launch your own business.

A brilliant Twitter account that resurfaces fascinating discussions that shaped the tech industry. 📝

So real. What MVP really means. 👇🏾


If you’re wondering who’s behind this newsletter:

My name is Sari Azout. I am a design-thinker, strategist, early stage startup investor at Level Ventures, and founder of Startupy (coming soon). My mission is to bring more humanity and creativity to technology and business.

Want more?

Follow me on TwitterMedium, and Instagram. Or get access to my second brain. 🧠

Thanks for being here!

#60 I minted something

and you can own it

Hi, I’m Sari Azout and this is the the 60th edition of Check your Pulse, a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human. I try to make this one of the best emails you get every few weeks(ish).  Join me, with probably no regular cadence, while I spiral.

Hello, friends.

Yesterday, I shared an essay I co-authored with Jad Esber on the future of the Internet. The core thesis is that several cultural and technological trends are converging that make us optimistic about the future of the Internet: a renaissance of individualism, the unbundling of Internet communities, a shift away from ad-funded models, and Web3 technologies that unlock infinite remixability.

READ THE ESSAY

Our hope with the essay was to not only share a conceptual vision for a better Internet (where more people can participate in the upside), but to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak, and come up with an example of how this future might work in action.

To that end, the essay is the first ever experiment (actually, the second - of course Packy beat me to it) in Attribution+, where we not only cite sources of inspiration, but route economic value to them.

How? That’s where NFTs come in.

We minted the essay as an NFT and are splitting the proceeds of the NFT sale with the group of people who inspired the ideas we share, and with YOU, if you help us share it. Quote tweet this and you will be entered to share in 10% of the upside of the NFT sale. This is only possible because of our collaboration with Mirror, a startup changing the way writers fund and sustain their work.

Why would I (or anyone) want to own this NFT?

Good question. There are several benefits, from the intangible to the very tangible.

  • Be a proud owner of an experiment that honors the original ideals of the Internet - users and creators, unconstrained by intermediaries, sharing ideas and economic upside

  • A powerful signal to the world that you support the “win and help win” worldview, and are, unabashedly, an Internet optimist.

  • A 1hr Zoom call with Sari and Jad to dive deeper into the thesis (all bidders are invited to participate)

  • A lifetime Startupy membership

  • The prospect of turning a profit by reselling the NFT down the line (Patronage+)

  • Own the underlying illustrations we created for the essay.

  • We’ll send you physical prints of the four illustrations we created for the essay - below. They’re 1:1 because this is the only time we’ll ever print or sell them. And tbh, I’d hang these in my powder room - they’re also great dinner conversation starters for the intellectually inclined.

Who gets the money?

The funds will be split as follows:

  • 55% goes to the authors (Jad and I).

  • 30% goes to the thought partners we cite throughout the post. Full list here.

  • 5% goes to my dear friend, Josh Nissenboim, the man behind the illustrations.

  • 10% goes to readers and supporters who help us spread the word. If you want to be part of this pool, Quote Tweet this and add your ETH address. The more clever the tweet, the more likely you are to be selected.

Sounds complicated. Why do we need crypto to do this?

  • Crypto makes it easy to distribute value across stakeholders in more granular ways. That’s legitimately useful; it automates something that can be onerous in the web2 context. Imagine trying to compensate all of the people we cite in the essay using Venmo or PayPal + a spreadsheet to track? Crypto and NFTs are built for this new world. Writers win by earning money for their work. Thought partners win by earning money for their ideas. Collectors win by owning a piece of Internet history. And you, my readers, can also win by sharing the essay here. WIN AND HELP WIN.

  • An NFT is simply a unique token representing a digital file. And because you can have a limited set of tokens, it introduces scarcity to digital life. Scarcity in the physical world is what drives value - there’s only a limited set of any physical thing, but until now, there was an infinite amount of anything on the web. What this unlocks for creators is powerful: creators can capture value without limiting propagation of their work. When you buy this essay you are not buying this essay you are buying an entry in a ledger that associates your identity with this essay. A lot of people seem to think that it is completely insane to spend money for something that is freely copyable or accessible. But that misses the point: humans are status-seeking social creatures; we are driven by the need to assert our identity and belonging through what we own. NFTs make public access and private ownership of any digital media file possible.

  • Questions of provenance, authenticity, and scarcity are solved by using the blockchain which is transparent and verifiable. Each NFT has a unique ID and metadata, which you can think of as a digital passport. Moving forward, anytime this essay is distributed on another platform, anyone can "check its passport" and see its entire history, without the need for any third party to intermediate that ownership.

  • Perpetual royalties - this is perhaps my favorite advantage of all. The ability for creators to automatically gain a percentage of every sale of their work in the secondary market in perpetuity.

Crypto is hard. How do I bid on this NFT?

Anyone with an Ethereum wallet can place a bid by clicking the Place a Bid button here. If you don't have a crypto wallet yet, don’t be intimidated. Follow the steps below and consider this your foray into this weird, wonderful world:

1.  Turn your regular $ into Ethereum (Cryptocurrency). For most of you the easiest way to do that will be via Coinbase. On iOS you can do this with Apple Pay by using Rainbow Wallet.

2.  Once you’ve setup a Coinbase account or Rainbow Wallet (iOS) purchase some Ethereum.

3. On desktop Install a browser-based Ethereum wallet called MetaMask. (Click here for a tutorial on how to install Metamask). On iOS you should already be using Rainbow Wallet.

4. Next send your purchased Ethereum from Coinbase to Metamask (Click here for a tutorial on how to send Ethereum to your Metamask wallet.) On Rainbow wallet you should already have the Ethereum you purchased with Apple Pay.

5. Once you have ETH in your Metamask or Rainbow address, voila, you’re good to go. Click here to bid.

The NFT auction closes at 9pm EST tonight. Until then, if you have any questions or comments, tell me everything.

That’s all for now. Let’s see how this goes.

Internet, do your thang! 🔮
Sari

If you’re wondering who’s behind this newsletter:

My name is Sari Azout. I am a design-thinker, strategist, early stage startup investor at Level Ventures, and founder of Startupy. My mission is to bring more humanity and creativity to technology and business.

Want more?

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks for being here!

#59: From Winner Take All to Win and Help Win

An NFT experiment in Attribution+ and how the original vision of the Internet is making a comeback

Hi, I’m Sari Azout and this is the the 59th edition of Check your Pulse, a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human.

Hello, friends.

It’s been a while, and it’s also been WILD. And by that, what I mean to say is, since you last heard from me, I’ve had a collapsed lung, spent 14 nights in the hospital, undergone lung surgery at 25 weeks pregnant, and come out of the rubble more alive and with a mad deep appreciation for the things that humans (like ME) are capable of enduring. I think of that saying: a woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water—and actually yes. This past month I’ve felt very much like a tea bag in boiling-ass-hot water.

But I’m back in business and I’ve got some fun things cooking up in the next few weeks. Today is no exception.

Longstanding CYP readers know that I am a relentless optimist. I’ve long had a theory that we're sorely lacking in solutions journalism; that if we convert all of the journalism complaining about the status quo into positive inspiration and let it flow through the veins of the Internet, we might just change the world.

Now it’s one thing to write about something, and an entirely different thing to live it.

Which is why what I’m about to share is so cool.

Today, I’m excited to publish an essay I co-wrote with my Internet friend Jad Esber: From Winner Take All to Win and Help Win: How the Original Vision of the Internet is Making a Comeback

READ THE ESSAY

PLEASE READ THE ESSAY

LAST OBLIGATORY BUTTON TO READ THE ESSAY

The catch? This will be the first ever experiment in Attribution+ where we not only cite sources of inspiration, but route economic value to them. 

In practical terms, this means we minted the essay as a NFT (here if you’re wondering what the hell that means), and the proceeds of the NFT sale will be split between the authors, the people that influenced the essay, and YOU (if you RT this with a comment and give me your ETH address). It doesn’t get more participatory than that!

If Web2 was about social graphs—where a tagged photo connects the people who attended last night’s wedding—Web3 is about economic graphs, where a simple tag can route money to anyone who collaborated or participated in a project. Imagine the possibilities!

Today, I encourage you to read the essay.

Tomorrow, I’ll send an email before the NFT auction closes with details on how to participate, in case you’re interested in owning this piece of Internet history. I’ll also explain why you (or anyone) might want to own this thing. Crypto is hard, I know. My hope is to demystify it by showing real use cases beyond weird markets for JPEGs, and help you find meaning in the madness.

That’s all for now. Let’s see how this goes.

Internet, do your thang! 🔮

OH, AND READ THE ESSAY

Sari

If by now you didn’t read the essay, I gather you’re more of a get-to-the-takeaways person. The key insights, for you:

  • The assumption underlying today’s winner-takes-all  Internet dynamic relies on creators being judged by a talent standard. But talent is the name we give to people who best deliver what we prefer, and we don't always agree on what's best. Winner-take-all outcomes happen in markets with forced standards and received expert opinion. Today, platforms and a select few “influencers” have taken on the role of “expert” taste-making.

  • We’re currently witnessing a renaissance of individualism on the internet and an unbundling of internet communities, and with that, a breakup with singular, discriminatory platform algorithms and the opinion of the ‘few’ that arbitrate taste. The unbundling of Internet communities means people can decide on “what’s best” for themselves, allowing for the talent power law to play out across more taste vectors and spreading the opportunity to be perceived as “the best” to more people.

  • It's hard to understate how profoundly the shift in the business model of the Internet from ad-revenue to direct-to-creator monetization alters incentives - platforms are now less focused on driving eyeballs and more focused on building tools that make creators money.

  • High willingness to pay creators, along with better methods to monetize creative output is a potent combination that will lead to a massive rise in the number of people making money online, and new ways to scale income without scaling time.

  • Every idea/content/project is just a remix of what came before it.  In the past, it hasn’t been possible to track their provenance or to compensate the originators. The true power of Web3 technologies is the potential to reshape how value is created, shared and distributed.

  • An underexplored undercurrent of Web 2.0 monetization tools is that creators have been incentivized to publish good enough content frequently vs. great content sporadically. But what if instead of being paid as labor, ideas became capital, making you $ while you sleep? What if the ROI of an essay that took 100s of hrs to write was orders of magnitude higher than those designed for disposability? That’s exactly what Web3 technologies make possible.

  • Out of the turmoil of the last 20 yrs new possibilities are emerging.  A renaissance of individualism, a shift away from ad-funded models, and Web3 technologies that unlock infinite remixability make us optimistic that the original vision of the Internet is making a comeback.

This got me like… WHOA 👇🏾

Solid business card design👇🏾

A really good collection of psychological tricks here

  • Saying 'You're right!' instead of 'I know' makes you look less like an asshole and doesn't diminish something someone else may have just found out."

  • Instead of asking, 'Do you have any questions?' I ask, 'What questions do you have?' The first almost always results in silence, while the second helps people feel comfortable asking questions."

I like this, on effort 👇🏾

Can’t seem to find the original source, but this is good 💯👇🏾

If you’re wondering who’s behind this newsletter:

My name is Sari Azout. I am a design-thinker, strategist, early stage startup investor at Level Ventures, and founder of Startupy. My mission is to bring more humanity and creativity to technology and business.

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