#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




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! 🔮



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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