Tech giants getting dragged on Discord, apocalypse photographers landing lucrative cash grabs, and a surrealist hustlesis rapper slapped with Bitcoin money laundering charges, because everything is important on the Internet.
Chad & El Prof
(Price changes reflect past 7 days as of 2.15.22 @ 4:20 PM EST.)
- Still dropping like leaves, still fucking with the degens, still don’t love the SEC.
- So instead, let me drop some links you might understand better than me:
- FTX opened its waitlist for Bitcoin stock trading;
- The ‘blockchain bank account’ BlockFi settled for $100m after being outed as a Ponzi scheme; and, last and least,
- OpenSea, the web2 of web3, is expanding into VC, because… obviously.
Is 'NFT tools' the new 'pivot to video'?
Last week, YouTube officially announced their previously-teased NFT creator tools. It came with a familiar flourish of jargon: verifiable ownership, new monetization opps, etc. And the integration was predictably uninspired — basically, creators can sell their own videos as NFTs and buy and hodl others on the platform. Still, you’d be forgiven for considering this another milestone in the inevitable web3 takeover. A company that singlehandedly changed the content landscape of the past decade embraces NFTs as the future of the creator economy. Any degen worth their SHIB’s wet dream.
But Garbage Day makes a convincing counterpoint that a hard web3 pivot from a fading web2 giant actually signifies the opposite. TL;DR: YouTube has neither the prestige of streamers nor the streed cred of short form, so hopping on the trend is really their only play left. But it’s a hypocritical one, considering YouTube’s history of undercutting true content ownership at every turn. And it’s probably a doomed one, too, since the manner in which these tech relics adopt web3 runs counter to the whole appeal of the technology. The author points out that these supposed markers of true, immutable ownership will likely be integrated in a platform-exclusive way and will cease to hold value if the centralized corporation folds in, say, a decade. (Which YouTube’s founder explicitly acknowledges as a real possibility.) In short, YouTube is giving lip service to a community, and a big fuck you to their values. Sound familiar?
To me, it smacks of the same rancid-Sweet-Baby-Ray’s-flavored aftertaste of Zucc’s Meta rebrand. As we pointed out a few weeks back, Facebook’s web3 exploration effort is like if Indiana Jones went to Ethiopia and raided a display case of Nigerian artifacts curated by some Belgian diamond mine mogul at an all-inclusive resort. Like, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it might feel like what the fans want. But blow away a layer of dust, and it’s just the same late stage capitalist, intensely problematic bullshit, probably cooked up by the Disney-Exxon-Fox conglomerate in a U.S. Air Force funded production. Fortunately, fascism isn’t as profitable a brand as it used to be, and even with (or perhaps because of?) his transparent bandwagoning, Zuckerberg was recently forced into his own tearful pivot to video.
‘Pivot to video’ is such an endemic strategy among failing media properties and flailing social platforms that it has practically become a meme in its own right, a euphemistic death knell for washed up web2 brands. Which leaves me wondering: is adoption of NFTs the next iteration?
Sure, plenty of mega corporation web3 adopters — Nike, Coke, KFC — won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. A bitch needs his Family Fill Up. And, as telling as it is that the web3 craze is, for now, being shunned by the cool kids, it’s only a matter of time before TikTok offers its own NFTs. Anything else is leaving money on the table.
But when companies like Facebook and YouTube make web3 into their brand identity — or try to remake it in their own image — it says less to me about the reach of web3 and more about how some companies are so out of touch they’ll never reach it. The missions and models of these tech giants run contrary to the whole damn point of the blockchain. So, no matter how much money they throw behind their products, they’ll continue to get dragged in the Discord subchannels and Twitter threads where real web3 change is happening.
Whether they’ll be replaced by a genuine paradigm shift or simply an onslaught of future-proof cash grabs remains to be seen. (Although the totally well-adjusted, not-at-all-into-bestiality boys behind the Jacked Apes Club rug pull suggest the answer is not the one we’re hoping for.) Regardless, seeing the minds behind the alt right rabbit hole and/or Jake Paul have a very public midlife crisis is more than enough for me.
As you know, I’m a sucker for self-promotion, even if I need to Trojan Horse it in. So who am I to pass up the chance to plug an exciting young artist channeling our very own taste in cyberpunk techno-dystopian branding?
@coughh_syrup — aka Mia Novakova — is a digital cinema photographer who does an excellent job in visually capturing the vague underlying sense of existential dread I get when I pass a condemned shopping mall on the way to my favorite discount supermarket chain. Shooting apartments under moody lights and probably-CGI plastic wrap, she gives the impression of an apocalyptic world as an abandoned summer home, if not the pad of some hustlebro version of Patrick Bateman.
The piece pictured above, shared with no context last year, leaves me feeling like Mia’s life mission might be to repaint the beauty in our lives behind a distorted digital lens, distancing it from the human experience, while demonstrating how its essence persists to shine through the deliberate distortion. Maybe I should have saved this imaginative commentary for our H0R_oscopes issue. Guess I underestimated the potency of legal weed. Can you blame me?
Snarky garbled-y gook aside, I am certainly a fan of Mia’s style, and, like the other artists we’ve recently covered in Stud Finder, she’s a newly minted (pun intended) NFT artist. But it took me some work to find this, and I wouldn’t blame her audience of 50k followers if they couldn’t ‘follow the ETH’ from Instagram to Google to Twitter, where her genesis collection’s Super Rare link lives in its bio. If only there were a product that could bridge web3 creators’ audiences across web2 platforms.
Like, say, UniPro™: the ultimate growth hacking tool for content creators. UniPro provides an all-in-one business service to automate digital operations and grow audiences with predictable, and more importantly profitable, revenue streams in… motherfucker. There I go again with the self-promotion. I swear I can’t help it. Addiction is a disease. Haven’t you seen Euphoria? @coughh_syrup has, clearly.
The heroes we deserve
Today, in our own pivot, we present our Kramer Award not to the scammed but to the scammers.
How could we pass up the opportunity to honor Heather Morgan, the entrepreneur / rapper who, along with her husband, was recently indicted for trying to launder $4.5b in Bitcoin? No, she didn’t get away with it. And, yes, it’s been correctly pointed out that these clowns are almost certainly not the ones behind the complex Bitfinex cyberattack from back in 2016 — the alleged source of the fake money in question.
After all, this is the woman who once rapped: i’m a motherfucking bad bitch / go on make me a sammich / you annoying like vag itch / so lame it’s fucking tragic. Which, is, indeed, a tragedy, albeit less of the Shakespearean variety and more in the vein of Waiting For Godot. Cleopatra she is not, but operatic downfalls are overrated next to folk heroes such as these. The Netflix miniseries practically writes itself. But who needs it, when we have reality?
Meanwhile, a genuinely honorable mention goes out to @thomasg.eth, who dodged what must’ve been one of the brightest and ballsiest scams I’ve ever come across. His Twitter thread recaps the whole thing in A24-film-worthy detail. But basically, a graphic designer hopped into Thomas’ ‘open-source aircraft’ DAO (whatever the hell that means), spent two weeks giving free work and enthusiastic conversation to the project (and the very lonely man behind it), then brought in a friend impersonating one of the brains behind the Solana-based NFT game Space Falcon to seal the deal.
Now, Tommy is a simple guy who just wants ‘private jets for all the homies’ — the archetypal degen, and perfect everyman protagonist for this sort of thing. Naturally, by touting their connections to Wisk and Boeing, the scammers convinced him to accept an airdropped NFT. Only, this particular generative take on an early ’80s sci fi cover happened to contain code allowing them to access and transfer any and all of his ETH. Luckily for Thom, he adhered to web3 basic strategy and staked it in a fresh wallet, but thanks to some full-on Talented Mr. Ripley style social engineering, mans came damn close to spending the rest of his life in economy class middle seats.
Better for the environment? Sure. But worse for the story. And, on the blockchain, the simple act of not being a total idiot is plenty award-worthy.
- Some genuinely useful links, on the off-chance y’all are into that sort of thing:
- A comprehensive and highly biased web3 explainer
- The striking similarities between successful web3 protocols
- And here’s the Magic The Gathering DAO getting hit by a cease and desist from Wizards of the Coast, which is hilarious to us, because, at the end of the day, we’re still just dirty H0Rs