It must have been hard for those early Internet dot com founders to watch their ideas burn up like kindling. What was yesterday a song of genius and risk-taking became a caricature of hubris and bubbles. Pets.com, lol, they said.
Of course all the Internet people were right, just not at the right time. Being in the moment, you really can’t tell when the right time is. You might only be able to tell when it’s over, and the music ain’t playing no more.
It’s the roaring twenties, people say about the start of this decade. Like, that’s a good thing? Of course the 1920s ended with the Great Depression, a restructuring of the social order, and a political path to the worst war in human history. But you know, some people had fun in the stock market! Even Keynes — for all his economist words — lost his shirt. Only political power and the gun mattered in the end. It was Kafka who was right.
We anchor our writing around the World Economic Forum 223 page report on CBDCs and stablecoins. The analysis highlights the key conclusions across several white papers in the report. We then add a layer of meta analysis around the language in the report, and question what it is trying to accomplish, and whether that will work with the Web3 revolution. This leads us to think about the tension between populism, as represented by crypto, and institutionalism, as represented by banking structures. We discuss theories of cultural and national DNA, and the rise of populism, as difficult problems to solve for any global alignment.
In this conversation, we chat with Nicholas – an NFT developer and a contributor to Juicebox, which is an awesome DAO enablement software, as well as SharkDAO and PartyDAO. He is very active in the ecosystems, got a solidity podcast called Solidity Galaxy Brain, a collaborator with multiple NFT artists, but I could go on and on. Let me welcome Nicholas to the podcast.
More specifically, we touch on the philosophy behind programming and coding, what a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) truly is and what it is comprised of, various successful examples of DAOs that Nicholas has been involved in, the concept of community and the value that DAOs serve in this respect, how DAOs leverage tools to achieve their purpose, and so so much more!
The structure of capital markets precedes the innovations that come from it. High frequency trading, passive ETF investing, SPACs, and crypto assets all telegraphed their value proposition before becoming large and meaningful in scale. We are now seeing a new market shape emerge, one that starts with community and builds up into financial instruments that are cultural and social. This analysis looks at the most recent developments in the overlap between decentralized social and cultural work and related financial features.
Square upgrades Cash App into a payment processing powerhouse, completing the loop between the consumer and merchant side of the house. Goldman Sachs acquires GreenSky, adding a lending business at the point of intent. This analysis connects these symptoms into a framework explaining the increasing integration between commerce and finance, and the increasing role that demand generation plays. That in turn explains how the attention and creator economies interconnect with financial services.
We discuss the top-down and bottoms-up approaches to innovation and project building. For the former, we reference Australia’s draconian surveillance laws, and the integration of US driver’s licenses into Apple’s wallet. For the latter, we dive into the Ethereum-based Loot project and its incredible derivatives, $500MM token, and $200MM of volume. Last, we conclude by highlighting the role of creators on the coming wave of Fintech.
In this conversation, Cris Sheridan, who is the Senior Editor of Financial Sense and Host of FS Insider, leads the conversation around the basics to understand the exciting new digital universe, more commonly known as The Metaverse.
More specifically, we discuss all things VR & AR including social media’s proliferation into the sector, Millenial vs GenZ behavioural approaches to the metaverse, the creator economy, NFTs, Axie Infinity, Mr Beast, Computational Blockchains, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), ConsenSys, MetaMask, and Ethereum vs Institutional Finance (Schwab).
The evolution towards a financial metaverse is rapidly accelerating, with the growth in generative assets, profile picture avatars, the emerging derivative structures that build on their foundation, and DAOs that govern them. This article highlights the most novel developments, and builds the case for what a digital wallet / bank will need to be able to do in order to succeed on the way to this alien destination.
In this conversation, we delve deep into next generation finance and banking with CJ MacDonald, the Founder and CEO of Step – an incredibly successful neobank on a mission to improve the financial future of the next generation.
More specifically, we discuss traditional vs. digital banking, how personal experiences influence entrepreneurial the spirit, immersive market research, banking-as-a-service, the importance of financial literacy amongst Millenials and Gen-Z, the power of influencers who actually believe in a brand, aspirational brands vs. plastic Wells Fargo stage coaches, and lastly the proliferation of crypto in the minds of the next generation.
Facebook is building towards a Metaverse version of the Internet, in both its hardware and software efforts. What are the implications? And further, how does one acquire status, work, and social capital in such a world? We explore the recent NFT avatar projects through the lens of Ivy League universities and CFA exams to understand some timeless cultural trends.
In this conversation, we talk all things capital markets and investing with Yoni Assia, the founder and CEO of eToro, one of the fastest-growing and largest global digital investing companies, brokerages, and applications out there.
More specifically, we discuss the eating habits of Warren Buffet, community-driven investment challenging incumbent investing practices, the purposes of investing and trading, of financial health, of investment education, of gamification of investment strategy, of capital markets and GameStop and the connection between capital, memes and fashion, and finally machine learning’s influence of investment behaviour.
Gen Z is becoming a cultural force, reshaping culture and online society. This is starting to echo in fintech startups and crypto protocols. We explore how financial communities are beginning to congeal into DAOs, their nature and structure, and potential longer terms outcomes. The analysis identifies the differences in Millennial and Gen Z approaches — however imperfectly — to explain the frontier of social tokens and why ShapeShift chose decentralization, while Revolut chose decacorn funding.
DAOs are not socialist communes built for the benefit of humankind. Rather, they are techno-fortresses to defend, and make valuable, exclusive online tribes.
Whereas Millennials dream about a VC-funded unicorn startup, permissioned into wealth with capital from traditionally successful investors, Gen Z and crypto natives dream about bottoms-up community syndicates with trillions to spend on the sci-fi future, unshackled from regulatory overhang and the sins of the 2008 quantitative-easing past.
Luxury and fashion markets are structurally different from finance or commodity markets in that they seek to limit supply in order to generate value. This increases price and social status. We can analogize these brand dynamics to what is happening in NFT digital object markets and better understand their function as a result.
We’re not cool. That’s why we’re in finance.
But people want to be cool. As highly social and intelligent animals, we want and need to belong, differentiate against each other, and negotiate for status. We create signals and hierarchies to create pockets of relational capital, which we then cash in for real world benefits.
Such mammalian realities are contrary to the economic rendering of the homo economicus, the abstracted rational agent making choices in financial models. In 2021, our financial models are waking up and instantiating themselves, becoming Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), spun up by DeFi and NFT industry insiders, and implemented into commercial actions onchain.
In this conversation, we talk with Maximilian Rofagha, who serves as the CEO and Founder of Finimize, about how to do personal finance right and how to do it bottoms up for the world.
Additionally, we explore Max’s journey to becoming an entrepreneur, the nuances of the e-commerce business, the building of and drivers behind community and creating business activities around it, the influences of FinTok and crypto assets on financial community, and the drivers of value back into said communities fulfilling the feedback loop.
In this conversation, we talk with Anil Aggarwal of Clarity Payment Solutions (acquired by TSYS) and TxVia (acquired by Google) about how he “stumbled” upon the payment space at the right time.
Anil is an absolute FinTech icon as the founder of renowned FinTech conferences – Money20/20 and FinTech Meetup. Additionally, we explore the various concepts of payment network utlity, the market timing large platform shifts, as well as, how social capital and community formation can serve as drivers towards the monetization of our attention even further.
In this conversation, we talk with Camila Russo of The Defiant and author of The Infinite Machine, about her journey as a successful financial journalist was derailed by the Crypto boom and subsequent winter of 2017. Additionally, we explore the success behind her first book, the nuances of the NFT craze, and how The Defiant became one of the most popular crypto media brands to date.
The nature of innovation hubs, and how close groups of actors within a particular environment can be massively, fundamentally productive. Take for example the 30 million years of the Cambrian explosion.
The difficulty of experimenting with banking and money frameworks, the limits of traditional econometrics, and an overview of “free banking” in the 1840s.
How evolutionary theory can help us think about selection of economic models, and the hyper-competition and hyper-mutation that we see in crypto. DeFi protocols, like BadgerDAO and ArcX among hundreds of others, are experiments in designing different monetary policies and banking regime experiments in real time.
We have never before had such acceleration in the design space of the economic machine, subject to evolutionary pressures, built by a closely-wound nexus of developers. It is a fortune for the curious.
The spectacular price increase in crypto assets, hitting new records for Bitcoin, as well as the comparable statistical situation around Covid cases
An explanation of the $1.5 trilion income effect in 2020, and how it has led to both capital acumulation and inequity (thanks NY Times!)
A discussion of all-time-highs and all-time-lows, why we need them, and their connections to the macro-economy, computer code, music, and the universe itself
One wonderful takeaway from Watts, which of course is not his, but beautifully plagiarized into the English language, is the duality of experience. The need for polar opposites, in a clock-like cycle. To have black, you must have white. To have the top of the wave, you need the bottom of the wave. To have a melody, you need equally the presence of the notes, and their absence in silence. To breathe in, you need to breath out. It is meaningless to have a data point without the context in which it exists.
I look at how spending $8 billion can either buy you $3 billion of revenue from Ingenico, or the private valuation of Robinhood and/or Revolut. Would you rather have a massive cash-flow machine, or a venture bet on a Millennial investing meme? To articulate this question in more detail, we walk through the impact behavioral finance has had on economic rational actor theories, and why quantitative financial modeling often similarly fails to capture the underlying tectonic plates of industry. It may not be wrong to bet on Millennials. We talk about what identity economics (ala identity politics) means for market value and how to think about generational change.
Chlöe Swarbrick, a 25-year old climate MP was presenting her climate change case to the New Zealand parliament, and was heckled by an older audience member. Without missing a beat, she acknowledged and dismissed the challenger with a pithy “Ok, Boomer.”
The recording has since gone viral, inspiring everything from merchandise to Vogue articles. While the incident isn’t the source of the phrase “Ok, Boomer”, today it is the most well known manifestation. So what does the phrase mean? If you are inclined to more colorful language, see Urban Dictionary. But the meaning is obvious on its face — Gen Z is dismissing utterly and without consideration the judgment and protestations of society’s elders on multi generational issues like economics, climate change, and social norms.
Let’s look at the recent Fortnite blackout and compare it to neobank Chime’s embarassing down time, as well as explore the business model implication of what it means to be the social square where people hang out. Does Finance have such an equivalent? Maybe it is Venmo, crypto Twitter, or the credit unions. We also look at statistics behind influencer marketing, and how influencers have usurped the position of music labels. Perhaps banks should get ahead of this game too.