We’re leaving our Facebook rants on draft for a day and donning our Twitter psychologist hats instead. Because examining why we care enough about this shit to write about it every other day is more important than anything else on the Internet.
Chad & El Prof
(Price changes reflect past 24 hours as of 1.13.22 @ 4:20 PM EST.)
- Inflation has had a bigger impact on crypto than the stock exchange, putting a damper on all the ‘decentralized financial revolution’ talk.
- An internet blackout in Kazakhstan — the country with the biggest percentage of the world’s BTC mining power behind the U.S. — provides a convenient place for maxis to point the blame anyway.
Last week, we teased the DAO that’s trying to ‘democratize the country club membership experience’ but come on. That fever dream of a TFM-sketch-turned-a16z-elevator-pitch deserves more than just an offhanded mention and a stray link. So here goes.
LinksDAO has traded roughly 2800eth in digital membership cards for the purpose of buying a golf course. Well. Actually. Not exactly. The ~$10m raised so far constitutes a sort of ‘friends and family’ round of funding, put toward DAO operating fees (read: setting up a Discord channel and lining the pockets of the founding team) with plans for an additional raise to buy the actual course.
‘It’s a grand experiment that we’re doing here as a collective’, the founder says, which should give prospective investors about as much confidence as a Theranos Kickstarter campaign, but here we are. Steph Curry reportedly bought one on Tuesday, doubling the floor price, and ensuring that we’ll have to hear about the future of elitist exclusivity for a while longer. Whether said future looks like a metaverse golf course or a spectacular rug pull remains to be seen.
While we wait with bated breath, let’s consider what the fuck a ‘democratic country club’ would actually mean. Per genre norms, the roadmap is caked in jargon and difficult to explicate. Reportedly, they hope to organize into a DAO to identify and buy ‘one of the world’s greatest golf courses’ by the end of the year in order to ‘create the club of our collective dreams.’ Memberships have already sold out. The secondary market for LinksDAO NFTs commands a floor price of 0.89eth on OpenSea.
There’s not a whole hell of a lot to go off besides that. But, by reading between the lines, one can glean that this new WASP democracy really just means buying a (speculative) private club membership (for three grand) and then (eventually) having a (marginal) say in where it’s physically located (maybe). So (technically) it is a change from clubs only open to rich white people with storied family histories, but also, in spirit, the same.
Admittedly, though, it’s a perfect fit. After reading Ian Vanagas’ characteristically excellent essay, ‘NFTs Are All About Access‘, I realized I’m only surprised a DAO didn’t try to buy a country club sooner. As the author puts it: NFTs give access to scarce resources. People value scarcity. Ergo, people value NFTs. Vanagas examines this from both the literal lens (access to a physical golf course) and the psychological (access to the identity of ‘person who might one day get to golf a quick 9 with Steph Curry’). In doing so, he casts the ‘new path’ provided by web3 not as a transparent democratic utopia, but a response to the ‘old ways’ web2 traded status — networks, reputation, engagement. Now, rather than selling the snake oil of an inclusive American Dream, the exclusivity is the whole point.
He concludes that ‘the projects that succeed will continue to convince people the access they provide is valuable.’ That’s something country clubs have done since the 19th century and, if LinksDAO is any indication, will continue to do. So while I do believe there are new opportunities for institutional change presented by the blockchain, I can’t agree with Vanagas that the emphasis on access and scarcity represents any sort of new path. ‘Members Only’ has been a viable business model since some alpha chimpanzee cucked my great¹²⁸ ancestor. This is no different.
In typical degen fashion I interrupt my work day by constantly doomscrolling on Twitter; I did spend years curating it. This tweet however ended up in front of me because Chad put it there, and not resulting from any due diligence work on my part.
I am a terrible listener and likely scrolled passed this the first time, but I am glad that I was able to listen to Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, discuss the conflict of interest that lies at the heart of organizational structures that are community based, like a DAO.
For profit entities must put their shareholders interests above all else, it is their fiduciary duty. For most businesses at some point this inevitably means reducing product quality to extract more value out of your customers.
What is interesting when it comes to DAOs, is that because the “share holders” are also the customers of the product, the nature of priorities potentially changes because their inherent trade off is between utility and earnings, not more or less profit. If the utility provides greater earnings outside of the DAO, they may forgo profit based priorities with the DAO in favor of product based ones.
All the complexities and nuance of this pondering aside, I believe that ultimately this is a good thing.
One of my major critiques of our current, public entity driven, capitalistic market is that quality is sacrificed for profit, and scale enables artificial moats to be developed and held despite inferior products in the market. Anything that challenges that status quo, to me is a win.
Listen up sheeple.
In case the metaphors have been too opaque lately, the metaverse is now being used on caged livestock to see if simulated freedom yields more milk. The Sun reports on a Turkish farmer who’s fitting his cattle with VR headsets, which, indeed, increased their dairy production.
A farmer using expensive technology to give his animals an emotional boost and stress relief while cooped up during the winter is sort of sweet. But an all-powerful overseer placating his subjects with a virtual reality while draining them of their bodily resources is the literal plot of The Matrix.
So which one is this? I guess we get to pick. Ah, freedom of choice. Thank the metaverse. Long live the Architect.